I’ve said about what makes me, “me” and what makes you, “you”, but have you ever wondered what you’ve offered to this world? What will make you rememberable when you’ve gone?
I can’t help becoming obsessed with it around Christmas. It comes having too much experience with death, and too much of that experience being too close to Christmas. Add that to the fact that you’re supposed to do something memorable on Christmas that makes a difference to your loved ones lives for that one day and it just sends my brain and the consequential thoughts into overdrive.
There’s a great band that I’ve been a fan of for 6 years, now and it’s as if they made songs based on these very thoughts and made an album out of them. So Long, Astoria by The Ataris.
In one song “Unopened Letter To The World”, they have the question “Am I destined only to die the same way that I’ve lived, in seclusion?”. In another, “All You Can Ever Learn Is What You Already Know”, they have the lyrics “Please don’t forget who you really are, because nothing really matters when we’re gone”.
It’s true. Whilst we’re all here on this world, we have to put ourselves to the best use we can. So many people slip through the net and end up being held back by circumstances they can’t help and other people can’t or won’t help them out of. They don’t want to die the same way they’ve lived anymore than privileged people do. Once we’re gone, we’re just a memory of our actions and our input and how we effected people’s lives.
Sure, those memories might provide use for the future but it won’t be us anymore. It’ll be other people honouring our memories, repeating our actions. I say “we” and “our” as I’ve done something worth while. I’m not sure I have, but it’s not my place to decide or question this. I should just try the best I can.
But then there’s another song which really hammers home my thoughts. It’s in a song that is not just a reference to The Goonies, but a homage to it. If you don’t know of The Goonies… I’ll refrain from asking why and demanding you go watch it this instant, and tell you what it’s about instead.
A town of residents are being turfed out of their home because they can’t buy the land from the owner who plans to sell it off to big investors, who plan to make better use of the land other than homes. The kids of the town are all friends, and the main one is a young lad of about 13 called Mikey. They end up ransacking their attic and find a load of artifacts from the father’s museum and in turn, find a treasure map and newspaper articles about a pirate called One-Eyed Willy.
They go in search of the treasure for “One last adventure” before they all have to move away, and eventually plan to use the treasure they find to buy out the new land owners. Of course, an adventure film wouldn’t go along with problems along the way but I won’t spoil any of that because those parts aren’t relevant. What is relevant is that they come across a load of coins in an underground that they think is treasure, and as they start to pocket it, they notice that it’s actually normal money from a wishing well people throw money into.
There’s an argument about whether they should put it back. They decide they shouldn’t, because that’s not the treasure they were looking for. But Mikey takes one coin, his reasons being “This was my dream, my wish, and it didn’t come true. So I’m taking it back, I’m taking them all back”.
That line is used at the end of the song, but the whole of the song is about revisiting old places, looking over the things they did and the impact they had on each others lives. How they got to be the people they are and how we’re all just a collection of things we’ve been through.
I’ve said it before, but not to this extent. Some things don’t come true and the bad stuff shape us a little bit more than the good stuff, and all of these experiences are good to look back on because we wouldn’t know how we got here.
But when it comes to the end, it’s the end, and we have to say goodbye.
It’s nearly Christmas and it’s nearly new year. Make sure this year has something to be remembered by and you be remembered by, before you fly into the next one, because we never know how many chances and years we have left.