One of the most amazing things about history is that often, you can connect with people from the past better than you can with the people by which you're surrounded. You get to know historical characters as real people with real personalities and lives in which they were just as caught up as any of us today. You get to meet them, get to know them, and then you can end up mourning them when your association with them ends, or you learn of their death. I know that in studying suicide reports (which include the method of suicide, circumstances leading up to it, possible reason for committing the act etc), it makes me wish I could reach out and touch the people I'm studying and change the tiniest thing for them that would have made life that bit easier to tolerate and that little bit more worth living. It makes me sad to read of their deaths because in learning all the details about it, you get to know them and mourn them in a couple of hundred words. You also realise how they're just normal people in unfortunate circumstances which they found too hard to bear.
In a wider sense, though, it also reminds you that we're all going to be history one day. We are those historical characters that other people are going to look at with confusion, respect, empathy, fascination, disgust, amusement, regret, nostalgia...
The scary part is that it reminds you of how transient life is and how you really have to make the most of the time you get.
Carpe Diem, etc.
It makes me want to do something with my life that will last through generations and really have an impact in some way. It's so hard to know what that might be. But I think living in itself, however we choose to do it, and recording it in as much detail as you can, is one of the most beautiful things you can do.
You never know who might be reading your story in years to come and how much it might resonate with them, and how your life, as insignificant as it feels now, might give someone - or an entire age - a worthwhile insight for what it was like when we were alive. Even if it's just an insight in to the life of one person. It might even teach them something important (i.e. why it's bad to give bankers bonuses!)
And for those in the 1800s whose suicide reports I'm studying... I'm sorry that I never got to meet you and appreciate the wonderful things about you that I'm sure existed. I hope it helps that even if though it's 200 years later, someone is sorry that no one was there to save you and remind you what there was to live for.
I think we owe it to these people - and anyone who has left this world too soon - to live as fully as we possibly can, while we can, before it's our turn to join them in history.
Just a thought that I like to keep in the back of my mind :)