Sunday, May 8, 2011

Leaving Your Mark--Guest Blogger

I'm so curious to get your opinion on this. Can a strength really be a weakness?
Here's my brother again:

There is something in all of us yearning for greatness. There are the obvious benefits of fame and fortune. There's a life of luxury, respect and honor, power and control. The list of motivating factors driving people to attain greater heights is endless. But maybe there’s a deeper motivation. Maybe it’s that each of us just wants to be remembered.

I’m of the current opinion that anything we do in regard to this is futile. A few generations go by, and for the vast majority of the human race, they’re smoke in the wind. I have no recollection of my great grandparents. My kids have no knowledge of my passed-away grandparents. And, it is sobering to realize, my grandchildren may not have the pleasure of knowing my parents.

These are the hard facts of life. But, it seems, it is this mortality inspiring us to at least try and leave our mark. Today I am struck by the realization that in this asinine pursuit, it’s all too easy to go astray, no matter how young or old, wise or foolhardy.

When I was in high school, my parents and older sister were away on a trip. It was a weekday and my parents entrusted me with preparing my little sister, Elisa, for school, while they were away. Now, it isn’t that I was terribly irresponsible, or dangerous, but I kind of wonder what they were thinking.

For instance, thermal underwear, for your typical person, is a nice thing used to keep warm when it gets cold. For me, it was high fashion. Long Johns under some shorts and a tank top were a statement. What kind of statement, I have no idea, but it made sense at the time. So obviously, it was my responsibility to dress my eight year old sister, and that is what I did. It didn’t occur to me how she would prefer to be dressed. My only thought was to dress her as I dressed myself.

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So out came my mother’s thermal underwear, and onto Elisa they went. They ballooned out from under the accompanying shorts like some sort of MC Hammer neophyte. I was the dark shadow of Calvin Klein and this little girl was going to strut down the elementary school halls like they were a grunge catwalk.

Frills, bows, pigtails, these were out of the question. You go into life with what God gave you, not pimped up to impress the man. I’d be damned if I sent my sister out like that. Uncombed hair pulled tight into a pony tail. That was the way I would go, and that is the way Elisa went.

You have to realize, on any normal day, she’d be dressed to the nines, with bouncing blond curls, clothes matching the sparkle of her smile.

It sounds like I didn’t love Elisa. I argue I loved her so much that I wanted her to be like me. I wanted to see myself in her. I remember, she looked at me with this half smile, enjoying the interaction, but wiser than the years dividing us. She wouldn’t contradict her older brother. I suspect she guessed she’d be teased when she went to school. When I finished the outfit with a pair of sandals, with socks, she probably knew it.

No, I don’t know what I was thinking. But, I still wish I could have been with her during school, showing those second graders how to really dress. Our mom got back that day and picked Elisa up. She was waiting for me when I got home. The expression of disbelief and horror on our mom’s face, as she tried to explain my utter failure, is indelibly marked on my brain. Elisa and I still joke about it. And to this day, I’ll claim my influence is the reason Elisa typically likes to go about without makeup on.

We all want to be remembered. We want to see ourselves in those we love. And, it’s all too easy to become blinded by the desire.

A simple example is the names we give our children. We want them to be great names. We want to honor others in the family. But, all too often, we are blinded in the process. Here are a few examples.

Ima Hogg
Shanda Lear
Iona Kniple
Chastity Beltz
Justin Incredible
Harry Butts
Dick Assman

I don’t think parents intentionally cursed their kids with these names. They were just focusing on different things at the time.

Do you have any experiences, where you or someone you know did something to leave their mark on life in a silly way?