Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Leaving Our Mark


We met my son, his wife, and my little grandson last weekend, and while we were out walking I snapped this picture. Some brave, (talk about precarious), ambitious soul, decided to take the rocks on the jetty and manipulate them into a manmade sculpture, of sorts. I see these stacks of rocks everywhere. There are many examples along highway 38, which leads to Forest Falls and the back way up the mountain to Big Bear Lake. Huge stacks of rocks.

People have, and always will be, compelled to add their two cents into the mix. We can’t just go out in nature and leave well enough alone. Now, I admit the stacking of rocks, or the gathering of twigs and fashioning them into representations of witches and such isn’t necessarily destructive, not like littering or removing materials from pristine environments. It would seem; us human beings are keen to leave our mark.

I’m no different. Putting aside, (but never discounting), the hugest, most meaningful mark I’ve left on this planet, creating five human beings, (mind you, with the help of The Husband—his seed responsible for 3 precious children, and an unnamed sperm donor—his seed responsible for 2 precious children.) As we drive through different towns here in Southern California I’ll say to The Husband, or my kids, or whoever else might be stuck in the car with me, “Look, there’s the pool table store I designed.”

Passing through Beverly Hills, I cry out, while pointing to the hills dotted with grand houses, “I once bid on a project up there that was designed to house four complete kitchens! And ten bathrooms! Can you imagine needing four kitchens in one dwelling? One of them was to be in a pool pavilion. I didn’t get the job though, lost out to a conglomerate.”

One day, we exited the freeway, searching for a place to go to the bathroom, and ended up in a seedy part of town, “Oh my,” I said, “I’ve been here before. I sold a kitchen to a truck driver and his wife in that neighborhood right over there. The place was a disaster area. My briefcase got hopelessly stuck to the table; it was so sticky. And live wires hung from the ceiling. They had four little boys. The cutest boys you ever saw, stair steps from about age two to eight or nine.” I sighed, thinking of the woman who had claimed that she was going to be a better housekeeper, once the new kitchen was finished. But, we had to return two weeks after the job was completed, to install a range hood that had been on back order, and the new kitchen was well on it’s way to resembling the former, only the cabinet doors were still clinging to their hinges and bare wires weren’t hanging from the ceiling, yet.

My big dream is not only to have books I’ve penned sitting on the bookshelves at the bookstore, but to walk into a public library and find those same books available for some special someone to check out, for free. As a child I got a head rush whenever I brought home a stack of books from the library without being required to spend a red penny. The process always seemed miraculous to me. What a gift!

How do you intend to leave your mark? Or have you already left so many marks you've quit counting?



All Rights Reserved. © 2009 by Elizabeth Bradley.

28 comments:

Kristen Torres-Toro said...

I love those moments when we're able to claim "connection". So cool! Hopefully my novels will be a mark of mine.

Four kitchens? I'm still not really sure what to do with one!

Jan Morrison said...

I think that I would like to not leave a mark - to use up my life and vanish without a trace! Wouldn't that be cool? Some times that is what I want - to not have the desire for fame, the clinging to attachment, other days all I want is to see my name in lights on a marquee on Broadway - Jan Morrison's play "Tutti Fruiti", smash success. (by the way I don't have a play called that but now I may have to write one) Or to see my novels sitting in a row (hell two rows!) on a shelf in a bookstore. Or to have my grandkids say "yay Grannie Jannie's here!" Oh yah, they do.

Elspeth Antonelli said...

I've left six reminders I was here; five daughters and a son. However...for me? Books of mine in people's houses, being given as gifts, being checked out of the library.

Elspeth

ellen abbott said...

Glass is a very tough and long lasting material, unless it breaks of course. Even so, archeologists have dug up ancient glass. It is pleasing to me to think that all this architectural glass I have done, that a lot of it will survive me and some may even last for hundreds of years and perhaps a piece, either of the architectural work I do or the small cast art pieces may even be around for a thousand years.

Sniffles and Smiles said...

You make me think about wonderfully inspiring things... And I want to get out and start doing after reading this lovely and reflective post! Thank you, my friend...I had grown tired...but after reading your words here, I am re-energized!!! Love you, Janine XO

Jemi Fraser said...

Love that photo! We often have Inukshuks built along the highway up here. They're gorgeous too :)

I hope to leave my mark through my kids - both my real kids and my school kids. They so often need that someone special to pick them up, hug them and point them in the right direction. If I can do that for one, it will have all been worthwhile!

Cloudia said...

Yes! Having my little Hawaii novel:
"Aloha Where You Like Go?" is in our State library system - JOY! I think of that on "bad" days....

I love your blog.


Aloha, Friend!


Comfort Spiral

GutsyWriter said...

Very interesting post, but I have to admit, I never think about leaving my mark. Perhaps I'm thinking about it in terms of after my life is over. I just want to have great contacts with people today, while I'm still alive. Maybe make people think about options and choices in life.

Marguerite said...

Hopefully someday, I'll have time to write my memoirs. But, definitely, my two children are my mark. Great photo!

Journaling Woman said...

Yes, I would like to think that generations to come will read something of mine, a letter, a journal, a book I penned or even a post-it note and see my mind and spirit. That's all.

BrightenedBoy said...

It's interesting that you can see so many indicators of your own work and influence around your community.

I hope to one day be published myself, so I can empathize with that.

Hilary said...

My sons are my top marks.. one is a soldier the other a musician. I expect they'll leave their own marks as well. And so it goes.

Great post. :)

jinksy said...

I hope any kind thought or word I've ever had will spread it's ripples until the end of time as others relay the same feelings, perhaps from the seed I planted!

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

I think it's wonderful that you can see a tangible mark that you've left on the world.

I love directing people to the library for my book. On WorldCat, you can see all the libraries that carry it, which gives me a glow (can't see that with bookstores.)

Elizabeth
Mystery Writing is Murder

Jennifer Shirk said...

Whoa. Cool picture.

Leaving my mark with penned books is lovely to think about, but also, I hope I can leave my mark of being a Godly woman and mother and that my child would reflect that mark, too. :)

kerrycharacters said...

In Shona culture there is a tradition which leaves mysterious piles of stones in the middle of no-where. They are called Hambakwes or places of good luck for travelers. The idea is that everyone walks around with a stone in their pocket. When they reach a Hambakwe they deposit their stone and pick up someone else's as a way of taking the good wishes of other travelers on their way. A bit like our stories and blogs. We put one down and pick another up. We wear them smooth. They comfort us. Thank you for your pebble this evening.

Galen Kindley--Author said...

Not sure what I’ll leave that’s worth remembering. I’ve no children, so the obvious one is out. I do have a published book. It’s actually in a few libraries here and there. So, as far as some kind of physical marker…that’s about it.
Best Regards, Galen

Imagineering Fiction Blog

lakeviewer said...

This is so beautiful, and poignant. What marks of passage do we leave behind? A very good question.

Helen Ginger said...

Most of my marks have been claw marks as I hang on. But I am beginning to make some real marks. And am loving it.

Helen
Straight From Hel

Fireblossom said...

That's easy, Elizabeth. I'm like you. I want to be able to walk in a book store or library and find a volume of my poems!

I always loved the library; walking home with a stack of unread books, with that special library smell to the pages and the little cards in pockets in the back with the dates the books had been checked out before. I even miss card catalogs!

Nancy said...

Wow, I don't know! I think it would be in my children, for sure, as they are tied to me whether they like it or not. But I would hope that if I left this world right now, someone would say - I'll miss her.

Great post, Elizabeth.

Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

Books go out of print, writers are forgotten. But children...they're tangible.

Alix said...

What a beautiful post, Elizabeth. I love your kitchen memories and how you use them to mark where you've been.

Sidebar: Why would anyone go to the trouble or expense of installing a new kitchen only to destroy it? Makes no sense.

As for making my mark... not sure I have or will in any grand way. But my two kids are neat people and that is very very satisfying.

Lauri Kubuitsile said...

Elspeth- I can't believe you have 5 kids. I've got to give you a standing ovation for that. (I'm standing- can you see me??)I have two and in both cases I was tricked into it. I love them now but..... let's just say me and babies don't get along. I need communication and they refuse to give it back in an intelligent form.

As for legacy- well I don't feel so bad about what I've done so far. Not that I think it might be time to make an exit- I still have a lot to do!

I love the idea of stumbling along little things left behind by others- just for people to enjoy. There is something very comforting about that.

Mary Witzl said...

I've made a couple of kids, hundreds of pots, the odd painting and drawing, and a lot of really horrible scarves. I really want to add a few properly published books to that list. In the meantime, I tell myself that good memories from tasty meals are better than nothing.

staceyjwarner said...

I'm often told when I'm searching for how to leave my mark creatively that I am raising Goom...and for some reason it never feels like enough. However this has changed recently because I know when I blog, I'm touching people daily and this means a lot to me, I'm living and therefore leaving my mark, all humans are sacred and divine!

Glynis said...

Aside from 3 adult children,my dream is the same as yours. To walk into a store or library(oh I do miss the library), and see my book(s).

Pop Art Diva said...

I have always liked to think that my art will be the legacy I leave the world but who knows. Maybe I should have been running around leaving little rock sculptures instead.

By the way, those little piles of rocks are called "cairns" and most often used as grave markers or to mark the summit of a hill or mountain. The Scots even have a blessing: "I'll put a stone on your cairn"

I had a neighbor in Arizona who had quite a few of them in his front yard and, though I'm sure they were set up as sculptures, I often wondered if there were any bodies buried there when I walked by, lol.

So, this was my pebble to add to your "cairn" post, my two cents worth for whatever it's actually worth!