It’s been a strange few weeks of fulminating full moons, dreadful dreams, and fortuitous finds. The intro soundtrack and characters from 1960s series Bonanza merged with stars of Paramount’s Yellowstone—everyone was related, feuding, carousing… There were guns and ropes, pots of silver and gold, and wide open expanses and Ponderosa Pine forests. The cowboys wore bandana masks, which also served as a towel, napkin, dust & poopy cattle shield, and sweat absorber.
Meanwhile, real world, one block over from Cailleagh Bhur Caer, there was an open air party on the lake. Everyone wore masques, left over from a Venetian fete, Mardi Gras, New Year’s Eve masquerade, or Halloween party. One person wore a CV mask—made by Gucci. Willy, my protag from Interpretation of Death was still lost in alpine region of Smokies, pursued by a poisonous prison escapee. Eureka, I finally know what happens next (chapter excerpt available later this month). My 12 hours per day geneo work struck gold. Our family tree grew from scrawny sapling to mighty oak after adding over 250 Irish, Scot, and Welsh ancestors that magically became visible via Internet searches, though previous quests yielded ziltch on these 18th century ancestors. The size of these families made my innards ache. I produced only one living offspring and two grandchildren. How was your week?
Perhaps due to lack of sleep, too many bourbon Manhattan’s, or the Tennessee heat, my thoughts turned to legacies. Will mine materialize in book form, as an oil/acrylic painting of a plantation I once owned in the foothills of the Uwharrie Mountains, a retained pane of stained glass, a house passed down, trees planted, or simply a memory etched in the minds of others? Or will all that remains be just a bit of bone and dust until that too is indistinguishable? Perhaps that’s also why I named the family dynasty saga I’ve been writing (magic, myth, mayhem) for nearly a decade Remains to be Seen? Prologue and Chapter 1 to be posted soon.
Ray Bradbury (in Fahrenheit 451) said what’s important is what you touch and change. He believed that makes the difference between someone who just mows lawns versus a gardener. A legacy provides evidence of our passions and intent; sometimes it represents our immortality. Another definition of legacy is something given to us, handed down or bequeathed—whether we deserve it or not. It comes in the form of laws, trusts, treasured objects, photos and memoirs, and in less tangible forms—seed money to build a vision, instructions for the care of a cherished pet, child, or business. A legacy demands a life time commitment; it requires your full focus and a significant expenditure of energy, sweat equity, and time.
What’s most important about us after we’re gone? Is it for those we left behind to know how we felt through the actions/acts we completed, thoughts we recorded, or the very things we didn’t do or accept? Can we die peacefully if our goals remain just dreams and our potential wasn’t tapped? Or will we become ghosts on an endless tape loop that haunts a person or place? Will we give excuses—insufficient time, unreasonable demands, too many obstacles, though others have left glorious legacies despite navigating through seemingly impossible obstacles? Dylan sang ‘if you’re not moving forward (being born), you’re dying.’ What would cause us to diminish or ruin a legacy a loved one left us? That’s the big question I ponder in An Act of Ambition; new chapter 3 next month.
How many of us will enjoy Warhol’s 15 minutes of fame (or infamy), see our name in news/digital print or face in a video? How many billion beings are simply gone without a trace—gone on the wind? Bennie Franklin said if you want to be remembered, you should either write something worth reading or do something worth writing about.” In the 21st century, cultural values are changing faster than many can comprehend. Psychologist Erik Erikson reminded “I am what survives of me.” Just what does it takes to leave a lasting (positive) impression and legacy for future generations?
The Internet and instant global communications have had their aha moment. What began in the early 20th century—a probing of minds, juvenile explorations and manipulations, has grown sophisticated and assumed a persona that wears a hideous mask. Add to that the lightning speed at which a thought or image is transmitted and the sheer number of these images, it’s no wonder so many feel overwhelmed, endarkened. However, our minds do have filters, ways of classifying, applying values, and in the case of the sensitive/esoteric person, an intuition to help make sense of technologies good/badness and worth. The legacy of someone reading this blog might be to develop new skills to process or determine future ethical standards for wisely using technology; or he/she could discover a way to make cheap toilet paper from cauliflower!
Perhaps the scariest thing is leaving an unintentional legacy, one that doesn’t represent who we were and why and how? We seldom get a do over, an It’s a Wonderful Life or A Christmas Carol rewind. How often do we pause while living and take stock, perhaps write an imaginary epitaph or obituary about our lives up to this point in time? As the world figuratively spins faster, and technology and science alters and ‘improves’ quality of life (according to wacky transhumanists), we email and text brief messages. Personal conversations are coded with words like LOL, IMHO, and CULater. We express feelings, sometimes even an entire life, in six word stories, like: Single, married, divorced, single, married, died; tripped over luck, stumbled upon tragedy; baby shoes for sale—never worn; or been there, done that, now what? Brave new world or same old…?
I was barely seven when I read Emerson’s idiom to ‘hitch your wagon to star,’ and added that was the best way to go far. Later I learned stars were dying objects, huge balls of exploding hydrogen and helium gas, held together by its own gravity. I assumed going far was the most important goal to achieve. I have traveled the world and naval gazed; never rode on another’s coat tails, but have I gone far…enough? Have I fought for the right causes?
Today, farms and big ranches like the Ponderosa and Yellowstone are being etched out of existence by faceless corporations. Dreamy landscapes are being bulldozed by people with dollar signs for eyes. There are things worth fighting for, worth losing sleep over. Perhaps that’s why those wild west characters from Bonanza and Yellowstone invaded my dreams. I live in the foothills of the Smokies, a 522K+ acre park chartered by US Congress in 1934. It was the first park funded in part by Federal money. It’s 95% forested, but how long will it remain that way?
Jung suggested dreams help us prepare for the final journey—to the absolute elsewhere, the underworld, Valhalla… Trauma, like what many are experiencing in 2020 (aka year hippies won; Herman became a Hermit…), might serve a similar purpose—as a form of initiation into the mysteries Demeter describes in Demeter’s Delinquent Daughter; Part IV coming in September. The mysteries take us into the heart of the labyrinth, and if we’ve lucky, out again.
However, our 21st century high tech labyrinth is also an obstacle course (or a game of Snakes & Ladders). When we feel powerless, we should remember just how powerful (and peculiar) we humans are. And that some events are inevitable, as Poe reminded in Masque of the Red Death. This morning I recalled another star dream I had and wrote down. A friend told me to look at the stars through a kaleidoscope. I replied I needed to fix, to rearrange the stars. My friend replied, ‘sorry, the stars have a mind of their own.’ And so do we—the mask wearers and the unmasked. Sweet, funny dreams and magic carpet rides to you and yours. ###