Wednesday, 8 May 2013

You were here...

“Sue was here but now she’s gone. She left her name to carry on.”

Ah, yes. The timeless signature in the toilet stall.  These, and others like it, were what would greet me as I did my business in the toilet stalls back in primary school. There were fewer in high school - stall signatures, i.e., at our high school (Wolmer’s Girls’ School) we were constantly reminded that we were ladies. (This didn't stop some who’d get their crassness fix, evidenced by a few scribbles – and other unmentionables. I digress.) Usually, the notes seemed to be written kind of lopsided, as if the author had done the scribing as she (and, I imagine the same was for the boys, so, he) was on the throne. Always, though, the unwritten rule: No overlapping. So, each notation of presence, “carved in stone” – until the next coat of paint – was not only as legible as could be. No, it was also written with enough space between itself and its neighbours. After all, if you’re trying to stand out, why would you go for fusion?

Surely, there were also love notes as well as the ones that would not be fit for polite company. But, those aside, I was thinking recently that we, (I mean, people in general), have come a long way from stamping our names on the timeline of humanity via toilet stalls. Pretty sure it’s still done, but, gettn to a point here. I’m also sure there were practices that preceded that one. Whatever they were, from generation to generation, the authors mainly have been after one primal thing: making their mark.

We all have a desire to not be forgotten. As well, there’s an inherent desire in each of us to stand out; do something unique; be distinguishable and memorable.  Some go for the weird. (I think I wrote about that in a post a few years ago during Charlie’s elongated “Winning!” moment. Maybe we could safely include many of those wacky stunts dressed up as reality TV.) Some go for the bad. (Public shooters in mass killings, for example, come to mind.) Others go for none of the above and try, in some other way, to distinguish themselves. And, when that’s done, it’s tied in with the desire to be remembered.

Funny thing is, as the quote goes, “No one on his deathbed has ever said, ‘I wish I’d spent more time at the office,’” the memories that likely matter to most of us would be those had by loved ones after our timely departure from this weary sod. In that moment, would we really care whether we were responsible for finding the cure for cancer? OK. We might care about that. But, y’know? All the achievements and what not, how far down the list of priorities would they be – if they made the list at all – in terms of what we want to be remembered for and whom we’d want to be remembered by?

I guess life’s like that. (This is not where I intended to be when I started this post.) We get here. We have dreams and goals and work hard to achieve them and do. But, in the end, it’s really the relationships and the love that matter.

So, where had I intended to go? That social media have provided us with new, freshly painted, ever-expanding walls on which to write. There’s a lot of space for those individualistic notes – and write away we do. Sometimes, given the ease of access to our material/notes and the speed with which they can be shared, we have to indicate that we’re quoting ourselves when we quote ourselves!

I dare say that for some, writing these notes is not so much about making a mark on the frail human fabric of life. Nor is it about doing something to be remembered by. Instead, it’s simply a way to grasp life in manageable pieces; to keep from being overwhelmed; to keep from suffocating.



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