And out of the corner of my eye, the little old man appears. Oh, fine. He’s not exactly what you would think of as “little”, but it does help to set the whole tone, so just work with me here, OK?
Now, where was i? Oh yes, the little old man appears. And honestly, i don’t think i would have ever noticed him except for a couple of items. One, he was walking down a very busy street in a shuffle, and as a result i immediately became very protective of him. Secondly, he was wearing obscenely large headphones. The type that young people wear to look cool, and that old people wear simply to hear. The third thing that struck me though, is the reason i’m writing this. The third thing was his face. Its expression seemed to say that he was aching to tell his story. To someone. Anyone. And combined with the slouch and the scuffling feet, it didn’t appear that he had a soul in this world to convey it to. Least of all me as i sped by – protectively of course. To say i wanted to hug this little old man and to hear his tale is somewhat of an understatement, and somewhat naive. i mean, after all, he could be a total jerk. His “story” might actually be much more of a nightmare than a fairy tale – or more of a washout than an adventure. He might have been a man of great promise, or a person of no import. And i’ll never know which.
And then it dawned on me – as i passed him by only to go under the interstate shortly thereafter, noting the sea of headlights that met with me while doing so – there are millions of stories aching to be told. Simply billions here and now, never mind the past. And of these, most never will be. Not on a grand scale at any rate. Of all the gazillion stories that have ever been lived, only a very select few will ever be given the credit they’re due. And i am of the opinion, that most are due some sort of credit. Some sort of praise. At least some sort of remembrance. Are old faded photographs enough? Pictures that are held in the hands of descendants who say “umm, i believe that was…” while repeatedly turning it ’round, in the hopes that someone had the good sense – since the time that they had first picked the picture up – to write the names of the people contained within? i’m pretty sure not. i’m pretty sure in fact, that our stories should be worth a whole lot more. Especially by those who wouldn’t even have a story of their own, had we not had ours first.
The second man that caught my attention did so well before he normally would have in another time and place. And it wasn’t even the blatantly false nature of his oversized misshapen wig that did so. No, it was the way he randomly stuck his arm high into the air much like a marionette – as if waving to no one in particular – while purposefully striding down the street. A little younger than the first man, this man’s face was somewhat of a blur to me. At the time, i didn’t even realize it, but i do now. And i think this is why. i believe it’s my nature to “not stare” whenever i see someone who is odd – well – odd to me. Maybe he really was just randomly waving at people, but i think not. And in thinking so, my mind determined that there was something quite obviously wrong with him (n addition to the wig attack currently plaguing him of course…), and as such, i felt i mustn’t gawk. So, while in the first man i found myself wanting to hear his tale, for the second man, i decided to write (at least a part of) his story for him. And doing so, i felt comfortable in simply letting him leave my mind and memory altogether.
My question is – of the two, which shall i end up being? And by that i mean, which am i? Or will i be something different from these altogether? While in my youth, i pined to be “one of the select few”, i’ve grown out of that particular delusion. For the most part. And of faded photographs, i’m pretty sure i’ll try to get my name on every last one that contains the likeness of me, prior to my final departure. Simply so that my descendants can at least tap the picture knowingly, while repeating the name scrawled across the backside. But when they do, will it be followed by questioning glances and a shrug, or will it be followed by several short memories, a laugh or two and a feeling of longing for return? In short, will my story be retold fondly? Will my story live on?
i suppose for a while at least, it will. And i suppose that as time goes on, and generations fade into generations, and the photos fade even further, the instances of this occurring will slowly come to a halt. i mean, nothing lasts forever, right? Or does it? i honestly don’t know. What i do know is that if i want my story to be told fondly, i had better make it a damned good one. One where the main character learns from their mistakes, grows in the process and is victorious at the end. A story where the main character has (mostly) a positive impact on those who surround him, and leaves more people smiling than he does frowning. And a tale where the main character stands up for his beliefs, respects those who feel differently than he and defends everyones right to believe exactly as they feel regardless.
And i suppose, had i wanted to say all of the above a bit more succinctly and to the point, i might have simply said, in short, a story worth repeating.
And should it be retold, i need to make extra special sure that at no point can the narrator snigger as they say of me, “and oh, if you could’ve only seen that damned oversized misshapen wig that plagued his head…”
i think i’m safe.