People won’t remember your name. What you do today won’t have a lasting impact on the future. What you do today probably won’t even affect next week. You’re nothing. Totally inconsequential in the grand scheme of the universe, who only allows one Cleopatra, Martin Luther King, or Hemmingway a lifetime – and it’s not you, sugartits.
The play you write, the recipe you perfect, the boat you build: none of it matters. If you’re an asshole to your granny or a gentleman to the lady on the street: none of it matters. It doesn’t matter if you’re happy or pensive or angry or blue; if your pants match your blouse or if you wear your hair its natural colour; it doesn’t matter if you eat your vegetables.
Nobody will remember you.
We have no purpose in this universe. No point, no objective. We’re born. We die.
You aren’t The Beatles, or the inventor of gravity. Your future does not involve the discovery of America or becoming the youngest person to win the Nobel peace prize. At best, your future will be a mortgaged house with a couple of kids and a spouse that you struggle to be your kindest self to. Maybe you’ll see your name in print, in a regional Newspaper or a local ad. Your neighbours will know you as the one with the nice lawn, or great cocktail party anecdotes. You’ll piss off your kids. You’ll have a couple of jobs – some more interesting than others – and you’ll work longer than you’d like until you wait to die, in varying degrees of pain.
You’ll do your best, day-in and day-out, for sixty or eighty or a hundred years, and then you’ll be gone, and your life will never have mattered at all.
Within the confines of a sexless marriage and a work appraisal with a boss you not-so-secretly hate, you’ll taste the dizzying highs of being alive. Your words will make somebody else feel less alone, if only for the moments they’re reading them. You’ll have tasted oceans in her kiss, the stars on his mouth. In God’s waiting room you’ll have grandkids and great-grandkids playing at your feet and you’ll know that even though they’ll forget to remember, they are who they are – the way his eyes crinkle when it’s bright out, the sound of her sneeze – because of you.
Life will be hard and it will be mostly pointless. But it’s because we’re utterly without point that we’re endlessly precious.
Birth and death, and in between one shot. One chance. One chance to be ashes over dust, to make sparks fly over gently rotting away. The one chance that doesn’t even matter anyway means precisely that we must. One chance to give our everything, because the alternative makes no sense. Waiting to die makes no sense. We get one chance at diving headfirst into everything we’ve ever dreamed possible, because if it works or if it doesn’t nobody will remember anyway.
“I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet.”
The experimental jazz piece you love to work on, just because. The “I love you” you’re terrified to say out loud, even to yourself. The jealousy you keep locked away, causing you cancer. Your favourite Hawaiian print shorts. A massive “fuck you, I’m doing it my way.” The trip. The career change. The trying. Always the trying.
Let it all out, do it all anyway, snatch the glorious slithers of stomach somersaults and dry throats and agony and ecstasy and know that the consequences of you living your very best life, for the tiniest amount of time that you can, matter exactly zero: so there’s no reason not to.
Your gravestone tribute will eventually be weathered into anonymity, and the weeds will command more attention than your memory. But your rotting body will nourish the earth and that’s as much as we can hope for. Nobody will remember you. But, almost imperceptibly, you were here.
Nobody will remember you, but do it well, anyway.