The deaths of Robin Williams and Lauren Bacall last week had me upset that two more great, talented human beings left us this year (suddenly and shockingly, in the case of Williams). But it now has me thinking about the legacies they left, for us admirers to continue to enjoy their work long after their passing. As grateful as I am to them for their devotion to their craft, the joy they took in their craft, as well as being seemingly gracious human beings off the screen, it also had me thinking of my own life, and what my own legacy would be, to those who would remember me.
As as aspiring professional writer, and despite some of my past work being published (and I’m not counting the poems published here), I feel like I haven’t done anything yet. The one story I’m working on is on the verge of being done (just, literally, one more bout of editing, and this all would have been done earlier had not I had a sudden moving situation), and ready for submission to book publishers…but that’s it. I know I’ve done something, but I also have goals, and I feel like I have not reached them. (My goal, by the way, is to get my 1st novel published by the end of this year/early next year, so we’ll see how things turn out in the submission field.) The only thing people know me for is not so much my writing, but my massages. As gratifying as it is to know that I’ve been able to help out people with my own bare hands, it’s another thing that I can do with these hands (that also involves some creativity) that I strive to be known by. (I do enjoy my work as a CMT, but I don’t know if I still want to do this kind of work 10-15 years down the line. My hands may fall off by then!)
I will say that at least I’m glad I am doing something with my own life, and that I got a game plan for this life of mine. Yeah, I am guilty over being lax every now and then, and not being ambitious as I should with my writing career I want to start soon. But I get out of it. (The way I snap out of it is to be reminded that some no-talent, reality show fame whores have had “books” published before me, and I’m driven again.) I know a few people that still have no clue over what they want to do with their lives. One has a college degree, and she’s still trying to figure out what she wants to do in her life. I also see some kids and all they want to do is stay on their damn cell phones and text and play games and whatnot. I don’t know what they want to do with their lives, but that’s going to be quite the mediocre future if all we got are a bunch of cell phones slaves not caring about bettering this world with the potential they may have. There may be some creative minds out there who may have the potential to change the world, but they’re probably stuck Snapchatting on their cell phones or playing video games on the XBox. And THAT is even sadder than the deaths of Williams & Bacall.
Just as sad is seeing some of the popular entertainers out there. And I bring this up because both Williams & Bacall were both entertainers, albeit from a different era than the famous kids today. (With emphasis on “kids”; some of them may be in their 30s but their minds are going on 14. No offense to 14-year-olds with some smarts and decorum.) Here’s one 20-year-old past his prime who is now known for posting and deleting shit on his social media feed. Here’s one actress who can’t really act but, hey, she’s a favorite in the fashion world with her dyed-orange-and-blue hair and sheer leggings where you can see her damn thong–intentionally worn to get press. Here’s this couple whom almost everyone knows are not happy together yet keep the faux romance up by posting pics of them “in love” every hour on their Instagram, just to remind us they’re still in loves. Quite the meaningful legacy these “top entertainers” are cultivating for their fans should they suddenly leave us the next day.
The “old-fashioned” way of actors, singers, models, athletes, etc. conducting themselves may not be the route every person in those professions take these days. But for those who prefer to be known as something substantial in their lives as opposed to being an unabashed attention-and-money whore who slips up something stupid on their social media feeds every day, that way may be the best way. Even if Williams did dabble in social media, he wasn’t an idiot about it like, say, Justin Bieber is. And imagine if Bacall was young and famous during this era of the ratchet selfie. That was one of the great things about those two: mediocrity was not glorified in their era so much as it was a career killer. They knew better than to get involved in brainless frivolities, and maybe they were lucky that the likes of social media, TMZ, and cameras on cell phones didn’t exist during their primes. And because of that, they led lives that people now look back at with fond memories. Granted, they weren’t angels the whole way: Williams did drugs at one point and Bacall slept with Humphrey Bogart when he was married to another. (But Miss Dee, isn’t doing drugs just as brainless as tweeting your life away? Yes. But what’s a more interesting story to tell?) But at least they were no Lindsay Lohans. Now, if Lohan died tomorrow, the way she’ll be remembered will most likely be mixed, with her worst detractors saying “good riddance”. Maybe Williams & Bacall had their “haters”, but even their haters would not be as harsh as those of Lohan’s.
Cultivating a life of a meaningful legacy may be easier said than done, but it’s not as hard as it seems. For one, don’t be a cell phone/tech slave. Or a slave to anything frivolous. Death will get us all at some point, and no eulogy sounds more pathetic than being known as a Snapchat junkie/XBox addict who rarely left the house and never had any friends outside their social media “followers.” You don’t need to be famous to be meaningful, but if you end up there, remember the “old-fashioned” way of handling your shit. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I got a novel to finish up.