Just Eleven Minutes

My father-in-law sent us a link to this video, eleven minutes of footage taken from the front of a trolley car in San Francisco, 1906.

Mobile and iPad users, try this one:

Two things about this video amaze me:

1. Only a short time later, large sections of the city would crumble and burn after a major earthquake shook the city just minutes after 5 a.m. No one in this video knows this, though. They are bustling through the busy streets in their buggies, waving at the camera, and going about their daily lives as if things will go on forever. These eleven minutes come from an average day, but how precious and beautiful they seem in context of what was to come. Find eleven minutes in your day you might think of differently–the extra long line in the coffee shop, your morning commute, time spent listening to someone’s problem. How are you going to make the most of those minutes? Are you really living in them?

2. People are engaging one another. No one is looking down at a cell phone, refreshing a computer screen, or totally zoned out with headphones in their ears. Though there is no sound from that street scene, I like to imagine that the boys running in front of the trolley, daring it to chase them, are laughing. A horn blows as two cars nearly collide. The woman crossing the track is humming her favorite song. The hooves of the horses clip-clop in a hollow rhythm. Someone waiting for a trolley greets another with a warm hello. Debates, conversations, songs, voices–stories of real people and real life–are merely suggested, and the gaps are left wide for our imaginations to fill in. But the fact that they are important, because they are people with questions and struggles and hopes–people just like us–is undeniable.

What do you think of the video?
Did it make you long for a simpler life?
Did it jolt you into the quiet knowledge that your eleven minutes could be enjoyed or discovered, and not just spent?


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