I believe that once a person becomes aware of his or her own mortality, the quest to leave a legacy begins. It seems the concept of passing through life, minding one’s own business, and then quietly leaving for the grave, is one that few, if any, find embraceable.
As soon as death is considered inevitable, (and for some of us, that realization came blissfully late!), it appears that a need to “leave a mark”, or to be remembered begins to rank higher in the personal priorities list. I believe this to be the frequent impetus of both graffiti and having children, (and the similarities of these two seemingly unrelated institutions don’t stop there. Both require minimal skill, or forethought, and both seem like good ideas at the time but can come back around and bite you on the ass… But I digress.)
As age makes its presence more clear, via sore joints, lessened durability, and parts beginning to sag just a bit more than one would consider aesthetically pleasing, the concept of a legacy seems to climb higher and higher on the aforementioned priorities list, (chicks call it a “biological clock.” This term is the same thing as a starter pistol to guys. They hear this phrase as “Get up, run fast, run far. Don’t look back!”)
So what does a law-abiding (at least recently!) citizen with no children, and no “desire to sire” do to ensure he is remembered after he is gone? Build bridges? Start a charitable organization to give sensible shoes to clog-shod children? Develop a cure for the common cold, teen angst, or Pauly Shore movies? These are important goals, true, but a bit too lofty for an average guy of limited finances, intellect or caring for his fellow man.
The answer found by some others in this predicament has been to become a big-time criminal and make the news. Like that famous guy that killed all those people, you know the one. Or that other guy that did that really bad thing… Man, those guys sure did get remembered. (Local “gang-bangas,” pimps, and rappers seem to think this earns them some form of respect. But, I don’t want to wax pedantic…) In any case, the idea of imprisonment isn’t a fond one either, if only due to the subsequent dating scene!
So, there it is. The eternal dilemma. The quest for immortality. Time is of the nigh and I have done nothing to leave my mark. Should I have some children? (I do have quite a few chores around here that need to get done…) Should I write a great American novel? Should I shop for a nice rifle with a high-powered scope? Where IS Pauly Shore these days?
George Eliot wrote, “Oh may I join the choir invisible of those immortal dead who live again in minds made better by their presence.” I like that quote. I’m going to go spray-paint it on a bridge…