In my lifetime I have always heard people talk about their ancestry. The history of their own country, who their family lineage descended from, essentially identifying with things that I felt no connection to.
It seems almost blasphemous to admit now, but I never felt that any of that had anything to do with me, or now. I did not feel a connection to the factors that shaped humanity in terms of society or race or anything of that nature. I thought nationalist ideas were silly, and that people exclaiming that they are "Proud to be an American" sounded a bit foolish. They didn't choose to be born there, and being American had nothing to do with them, they had just happened to exist in this place as easily as they could have happened to come into existence somewhere else.
It seems so obvious now, but since traveling Europe I have realized that different places really are different. I always defaulted to the opinion that "we are all human, regardless of where we reside", which is of course true, but there are so many other factors that shape us, and that is nowhere near the whole picture.
Any time I tried to pick up a history book or was in the vicinity of someone talking about periods of the past, my eyes would glaze over. I am currently staying in Greece and there is a book at this house called "The Fingerprints of the Gods". I thought the title sounded interesting so I picked it up and flipped to the first page, which showed a letter from some past military figure discussing features of a map from 1513. I was instantly bored and put the book down.
A week or two later, for some (unremembered now) reason, I picked that book back up. I discovered that the letter on the first page was talking about a map that displayed knowledge of Antarctica, the way it was before the ice age, and that this knowledge was supposedly unknown until the 1900s. Once I deciphered the dry jargon of the letter and realized the implications of this mystery, I was hopelessly intrigued.
I did not put this 500+ book down for the following 3 days, and it shifted my entire perspective on the history of the human race.
For the first time I actually thought deeply into where we came from, what inspired the knowledge we currently take for granted of space, mathematics, agriculture, languages, what ancient mysteries and intelligence have been forever lost either by accident with time, or on purpose by being destroyed.
I finally understood the fascination so many people around me have for history, the things we "know" and the other, considerably more numerous unknowns about this period referred to as pre-history.
I thought scientists had a pretty good idea of how humanity has come to be. I am not so sure now.
The book presents convincing evidence that advanced humans (on par with, or possibly beyond our level of technology and intelligence now) have existed on earth way longer ago than is commonly proclaimed. For some reason this really struck me. It gave me a burning, and unique form of frustration, of wanting (and possibly needing) to know more about this.
Legends exist in seemingly completely separate, ancient cultures that have shared characteristics, leading one to wonder if there was not a common denominator that engendered their similar spontaneous advancements. There are stories of "gods" coming to undeveloped tribes, in some cases consisting of savages, and bringing them the gift of civilization, teaching them not to cannibalize one another, sharing knowledge of language, science, medicine, and more. It seems to me as though there was a civilization far more advanced than the rest of the world at that time (enough to make them seem immortal beings by comparison) that made it a point to share their knowledge for the advancement and prosperity of humanity.
I am unbelievably inspired and mystified by this stuff, and no longer feel disconnected from the history of humanity.