What will they say about you when you are dead and gone?

Face it. Face the damned truth. No matter what golden palace encrusted, flying car future you see waiting for you, someday, someway, you are shuffling off the mortal coil. I'm not sure that it's a bad thing to have an ending. All my favorite books have that great heady line at the end, the one weighed down with the thousands of words that rolled up behind them, the trip off into the sunset, horseback assured. Moby Dick would have sucked if Ahab got the whale.

I've never been one to let well enough alone. I enjoy the big picture view of the world, the broad colorful strokes, the thick lines, the loud noises that come and go. History is the story of a million lives done, grains of sand on a beach. Can we remember things that came before us in anything other than vague glimpses and nibbles? History is touchstones. I think about Thermopylae a lot. Thermopylae is a story that appeals to my romantic tendancies. Sacrifice, treachery, arrogance, pride, courage, madness, hubris and contempt, Thermopylae had them all. But really, it is a story about the end of 300 lives. The curtain call for 300 souls, all at different pages in their respective books. Do we think of each man, each face, each death, no matter how glorious or foolish or ugly or desperate? No. We can't. We can't live the lives of others fully. My favorite allegory is that of a perfect map. A 1:1 map is exacting in detail, perfect in scope, and completely and utterly useless. The Devil is in the details.

Synopsis. I love the word synopsis. The General View. I think of a little Napoleon type on a grassy 18th century hill, watching blocks of colorful men dash each other to pieces. The view on high, cool and calculating and hazy, free from the emotion and pain and toil of dying men. When others remember you, they'll be up on that hill.

I find, and I hope I'm not alone in this, that when I remember the dead and gone, I come to the touchstones in my own life when they where there. These weird scenes that become hard, like pebbles, and really don't catalog the person as they were, but as the emotion the made me feel. I tumble them over and over mentally, and they stay immutably the same, stamped deep into some crevase in my head. I remember my Grandmother as a voice, drifting down shag carpeted stairs, coming to my ears as I watched big black and silver angelfish swim in an aquarium. I remember my Grandfather's face in a painter's respirator, wearing thick goggles and covered in fine silver spray. Why? I have no idea. It's always my first thought of them. It worries me that I can't quickly see their faces, and that I usually dream about the day they each died, and not of them, as people. It's that snapback to the emotional mileposts of your life, how they affected you in your own selfish, middle of the universe brained way, and not the dreams they had for remembrance, thats what grates on my ego.

I'd hate the same fate. Because you never know. My Gran dropped dead on the threshold of her house, arm full of groceries. My dad is older now than she ever got to be. It's that sort of indifferent fate that you get a taste of when you pay attention to life for a while. You never do know.

So plan ahead, right? What would I have people say of me? What are my dreams for the future, when they see me in their mind's eye and fight back the haze that wraps memories after time, like Christmas ornaments lost in the attic? What message would I beat into the Rock of Ages with my still living hands?

I would say this of myself:

He was a weary Titan that staggered under the too vast orb of his fate. He feared the End of the World, and the petty animal hearts that men hid. He gladly died, works half finished and pages unturned, because he lived a good life, in his estimation, full of kept promises and lies he believed in. He loved many and hated many, and never did learn the answers to all the questions he asked. He worried about silly things, and did more harm than good on occasion, was wrongheaded and right hearted, was stubborn and submitting, slept warmly and sometimes lonely. His ego feared fading away, even more than the pain of death. He wondered about you, and the lives that would come after his, and dreamed that he could make them better, in some small way. He lived a life alike and different than many others, and he is glad you remember him, how ever you do.

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