In September of 2018 and January of 2020, I twice visited Teotihuacan, also known as the "Pyramid of the Sun" near Mexico City. Nobody actually knows the names of these large structures, because the city had fallen some a millennia ago with no traceable lineage. Tourists are greeted with obsidian stones and pulque.
I can still remember my first time on the pyramid, standing on an uneven pavement of volcanic rocks glued together by limestone, holding myself against the racing wind. What was it like? The pyramid was likely an alter, which only accommodated the likes of shamans and kings, who sacrificed humans at the very place I stood. It must have employed many generations to build this tower of worship. But how did the people find the resolve to build onto things so large that will not be completed in their life times?
I imagined a land where the inhabitants believed so much in their culture that they devoted their lives to it, and became one with the generations to come. They are no longer a collection of individuals, but a continuum through time carrying each other's identity into the future. It chills me to imagine the devastation of the last generation of the Teotihuacans, having to abandon the identities of their ancestors, to disperse, and never to be recognized again.
However, they left behind the pyramid. A mark in history that traversed time to reach us. A mark on earth that is unchanged and indestructible. A pile of rock that will withstand a nuclear war. The continuum survives in this mark, and the identities of the generations persevere.
In a modern society, people outlive "eras". A 90 year old American would remember the war in the 40s, the revolution in the 60s, the computers in the 80s, and the internet in the 2000s. We seem to live forever, and we fully commit to living our best individual lives. We create and interact, and there is so much to do! Yet, as a software engineer, I cannot claim credit onto anything that can withstand a nuclear war. I am not part of a continuum, nor connected to the future generations. I question myself, when I wither, will there be a mark?