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There is a fundamental "thingness" to life—a fragility, an impermanence. Whether we consider the erosion of a beach or the rotting of tree limbs or the loss of our hair and teeth to be degradation or a natural cycle, we chip, we break, we wear away, and we are, in the end, disposed of and forgotten. — L.K. Gornick, from her short story "Things"

(National Geographic photo by Peter Essick)


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 7th, 2013 12:53 pm (UTC)
Disposed of and forgotten - only if Gornick wishes to see life that way.

Our ideas continue on in our students, children and friends. We leave tracings of ourselves in the written word and our art and music. We are the biological process - it is a miracle to behold. That quote is a buzz kill.

That is a stunning image.
Apr. 7th, 2013 05:23 pm (UTC)
Any influence we have on our students and friends (I have no children) has a half-life of perhaps two generations after their lives. Try as I might, and care as I might, I believe most of my students will not remember anything I have said thirty years down the road—maybe less. Their work will be their own. I will have had nothing to do with it.

Visual artists, musicians and a minuscule number of writers may leave larger traces of themselves behind, but eventually, their works will become curiosities for what they are, not for who made them. There is so much writing in the world today that nothing I've written will be read by anyone other than a curious student or two, or a curious distant relative or two—if anyone reads it at all.

For 23 years as a journalist, I covered at least two high school graduations each year. I have seen dozens, if not hundreds, of scholarships awarded in memory of one person or another, and perhaps a handful of people in the audience know who those people are. Those lasting memories are like mist in the sun. They will not last beyond the lives of the people with those memories.

There is so much writing in the world today that nothing I've written will be read by anyone other than a curious student or two, or a curious distant relative or two.

I *do* agree with you about the image. It's one of those works that result in an immediate "oh wow" response. It's from a series of photographs that were intended as tributes to Ansel Adams.
Apr. 7th, 2013 07:46 pm (UTC)
Their work will be their own. I will have had nothing to do with it. Could you allow that you have had an influence? I do not expect anything I have done to move forward intact exactly as I have done it.

We are but a moment in the history of all things - but even that small blip is not to be discounted as "disposed of and forgotten."

At least as I see it.

Happy anniversary. 37 years - awesome stuff.
Apr. 7th, 2013 07:57 pm (UTC)
I can allow I have had an influence in the short term, but over time, much sooner rather than later, the influence is absorbed by the rest of creation. A maple leaf falls colorfully in autumn, but as it lies on the ground its color fades and it grows crisply shriveled. Winter's snow further decays it, as do spring rains. Eventually, the leaf becomes either soil or food for worms—a minuscule and forgotten part of an incomprehensibly vast whole.

Apr. 7th, 2013 10:40 pm (UTC)
a minuscule and forgotten part of an incomprehensibly vast whole. That's beautiful, and true, but with regard to nature more than human existence, don't you think?

I agree, that in time, yes - we too will be forgotten. But I disagree that it happens, if we've lived life to the best of our abilities, within our own lifetime.

Using your example of a teacher, I can tell you that, at the ripe old age of 57, there are many things I remember learning from certain teachers going back as far as kindergarten. And I know, from having spoken with a number of your former students over the years, that you are, indeed, a memorable teacher who has a significant and positive impact on their lives. How long that memory lasts isn't as important as that it existed in the first place.

And, since I can't comment on your anniversary post, I'll comment here that I think you've both fared very well with the choice you made to marry 33 years ago. And, I love the image of you as sandpaper. But an ultra fine grit, not too abrasive.
Apr. 8th, 2013 12:50 am (UTC)
Our lives are like shooting stars—we may burn brightly, but we begin to dim as soon as we're noticed.

I was going to (but then I forgot to) email you today to ask how things are. Please let me know if you get a chance.

I hope you got out this weekend and got some dirt under your fingernails.

Apr. 8th, 2013 10:47 pm (UTC)
C’mon… Les Kyser taught you that every action has a reaction…basic physics…once you alter the cosmos by an action it changes the dynamic of the universe forever…that action will cause another being influenced by you to alter the universe and so on…your act perhaps forgotten…but never the action’s impact… I call it the, “Law of Vanishing Returns.” Holiday
Apr. 9th, 2013 02:22 am (UTC)
I knew I'd forgotten something—Les! That solves everything. Order has been restored to the universe, and restaurants no longer serve cold french fries.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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