Last week's episode of TV's seventh best contemporary show, Ed, axed the all important question whether what you or I have done in this life will leave a legacy or be as forgotten as our great grandparents' hard if not exactly memorable work to a less than grateful next couple generations- whether our lives will be a blip in the history of whatever comes next, or whether we will have earned a memorable tombstone. If we are remembered at all what will we be remembered for? Given the limitations of network television the question posed wasn't done so much in a spiritual vein (like Ike being judged on garbage day) but rather in a self examining narcissistic manner.
How we individually ultimately answer that question for ourselves might depend on whether sending candy and cards on one pink and fattening February holiday is more important than another nearby holiday meant to take the time to remember the faces that appear on the penny and quarter that either goes to pay the parking attendant on a cold slippery February day or to the I never thought this is where I'd be but it's only temporary until I figure out what it is I really want to be doing crew at the skyway's Caribou Coffee.
I may be the luckiest living(?) being on the planet now that I have a piece of clay (now among my most prized possessions) to forever remind me that the smallest things can come from the most considerable souls, and those things can make all the difference in this world. I also may be the luckiest living being(?) that I got by this past week intact and with my nerves not shaking beyond repair.
Wednesday I was crossing over the Hennepin Avenue Bridge when I felt the back tires of my car start to slide in a direction beyond my control. I didn't blink, didn't breathe as the entire vehicle began to move in a Dale Earnhardt direction not mapped out by transportation planners and experts. I thought for sure I'd hit someone or something in the busy four lanes next to me but somehow I avoided all contact save for a snow bank. I'm sure everyone else on that bridge thought for a moment what a poor sap I was and was glad they weren't me for a moment or two (or for all eternity) perpetually facing the wrong direction.
As my car was spinning seemingly in slow motion and my life (held together by mere duct tape) was flashing in front of my eyes in Technicolor, the notion of whether my life has legs or whether it is a blip, crossed my mind. What, if anything, will be my legacy? The 600 or so newsletter columns? The blue-eyed intern was astute enough to realize that what I write here is but a sliver of my true self (and for that she was the only one who received a valentine from me this year). My softball career? I'm afraid if I'm remembered at all for that it will be for my Denny Hocking journeyman type skills rather than as a young Hideki Matsui.
Perhaps I'll be remembered for my personally hand-crafted collection of ceramic monkeys. Nope, anyone can do those. Or maybe it will be the only stupid pet trick Max and I learned- that we sound exactly the same when we ate corn chips. Wouldn't that be nice?
Having pulled myself out of the skid with nary a dent I walked through the cold to work. Later that very same day my luck continued. I needed a task done at Kinkos (those professional copycats so to speak) and was told there was one nearby me only in a destination beyond my immediate comprehension. So without much direction I headed out on a these days criticized avoid at all costs spontaneous adventure to an unknown destination. My plan was to keep an eye out on one of the only buildings I could recognize under oath and to follow the crowd to what I assumed might be a popular place to be. My assumption, flawed as it really probably was, turned out to be great because I somehow ended up in the place I meant to be in a record time. Blessed am I.
The music that played in my mind? Two songs- the Pretenders "Sense of Purpose" and Ringo Starr's "Photograph." "Give me a sense of purpose a real sense of purpose now..." "I can't get used to living here,/While my heart is broke, my tears I cry for you/I want you here to have and hold/As the years go by, and we grow old and gray/Now you're expecting me to live without you/But that's not something that I'm looking forward to..." Go figure.
So what will be on my own tombstone? "She Saved the World Lots"? Nope. "He Sometimes Tried as Hard as He Could and Other Times Not So Much"? Perhaps. "He Came to Understand that Life is All About Contradictions... How as You Grow Older Everything Has an Eerie Familiarity at the Same Time You Find Yourself Woefully Unprepared to Deal with Things You Never Dealt with Before." Only if the stone is the size of a promised to never again be broken heart.