It’s the terror of knowing what this world is about; watching some good friends screaming “LET ME OUT!” –David Bowie
It has happened again. I didn’t mean for it to but it did. What am I talking about? Simple, I lost my thumb drive that has ALL my writing on it. Not just my blogs, but all my finished short stories, my unfinished short stories, story ideas, character list and crossover spreadsheet, edits of my stories by other writers, edits of other writers stories by me and so much more. Like most people, I didn’t mean to misplace my thumb drive, it just happened. I have a back-up so to speak but it isn’t up to date, I wish it were but it isn’t. I’m going to have to fix that and I will once I find/if I find my old thumb drive.
This incident has brought to a head something I’ve been tossing around in my mind for quite some time. By time, I mean two or three months now, maybe less, maybe more. I can’t really tell because when an idea comes to my mind I usually shelve it and let it marinate for a while in the gray matter of my skull. Sometimes, certain topics don’t allow me to let the thoughts rest and I end up just spewing out a diatribe of unsorted, unfiltered and mostly inane randomness tied together with bits of found string and tape all for you to read.
Ok, the prequel is done and I’ve yet to tell you what it is I’ve been thinking about. I’ve been thinking about legacy. Not necessarily mine, but legacy in general. I have tried most of my life to be a realist and accept things as they are. I know very few people in the world are in a position or even talented enough to leave behind a legacy in words or actions. Actions or words that eventually travel forward through time and ignore the biological deterioration we all succumb to eventually. We can all readily point out a dozen figures whose fires have been extinguished over a hundred years. I’m sure we can also point to figures in the past fifty years as well. Musicians, politicians, writers, actors, inventors, philanthropists, businessmen and many more, I know I can. All of whom who have influenced my life in one way or another.
This blog though, isn’t really about them. This blog is about “Fred”. I know, you’re sitting there glaring at the incandescent screen, scratching your head and saying “Who the hell is Fred?” The answer is simple, Fred is the guy delivered the milk, picked up the trash, stocked the shelves, cut the grass, swept the floor, trimmed the hair, drove the taxi and delivered the mail for any of the people who actually moved and shook the world in which we were thrust. Fred is the person in the background, going about his business, doing his job, providing for his family and making the best out of things in his life and those he is responsible for. Fred doesn’t really seek out fame, fortune, and power. If Fred has any talent, it’s usually hidden or almost unknown to anyone in Fred’s life.
We all know a real life Fred but we don’t really know him. Fred is quickly forgotten, even by his own family. I have a theory about that too.
You see, here’s the thing, I have a fourteen year old daughter, if/when she gets married (hopefully when she is thirty) she will have a kid. If she has a kid at thirty as well, I will be sixty. By the time my grandchild is old enough to remember me, I will most likely be in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. When my grand-child gets married and has a kid, my great-grandchild, I will not know who that kid is and that kid will not know who I am. My legacy will most likely be lost. I can’t count on my friends to remember me, hell, how can you? I mean really, friendship is as fleeting as the food we ate last week. Sure, once in a while we bond with someone, but the way life works, separation will follow eventually. Ask yourself, how many times have you heard your Grand-parent speak of their best friend from their childhood, teen years, twenties, thirties, forties… et.al. I know I don’t, and I don’t think you do either. It’s just the way of the world. So our legacy is usually one, maybe two generations long.
At least if you are a Fred.
But, I do have one thing going for me that a lot of people don’t. I’ve actually been able to leave my stamp of individualism on a few things that will most likely outlive me. I’m not referring to my writing but things I’ve done at the museum. I didn’t intentionally set out to do this, it just happened, which now that I think of it… it’s pretty cool. But, like all things, eventually what I’ve done will turn to dust and my footprints will fade. Such is the way of life. No one can remember everyone in their lives nor should they be expected to. I do however believe that there are certain people we come into contact with that influence us in ways that we can never fully understand.
How could we? I mean after all, a kind word from a stranger at the right time could mean the difference between bitterness and a life of solitude and joy with a life filled with friends. That is, if you are seeking a life filled with friends. I’m not like that. I view most of my friends in a seasonal transition. Meaning, they, my friends, are in my life for the period of time that I or they need to be. Then, like the passing of summer, they are gone. Their purpose fulfilled and their time in my life has passed. Transient Pals so to speak, and years later, we may or may not remember who they were or why you were friends with them but you will know that there was a time when there was something. When that person passes on it is most likely you won’t even know about it until days, weeks, months or even worse, years later. After a bit of mourning, you will forget about them and move forward with your life. After all, the earth is for the living and the task of living. Soon, you forget completely who that person was and their influence in your life and their legacy disappears into the ether of your life.
Now, I know most of this sounds pretty depressing and truth be told, it can be, but, remember, we are here to live. We are not here to dwell and be morose. Fill your life’s cup to the brim and drink from it. That is, if you want to. If not, then don’t, but remember, when you are gone, you won’t get a chance to do it again. Also, fifty years after your death, no one will remember what an ass you were, hero you were, lover you were or even what a bastard you were. Because earth and life are for the living, not the dead.
Now, where is Fred? My trash needs to be emptied. Oh, that’s right… I’m Fred.
Have a week.