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Lewis Wickes Hine: Climbing up the Beams on the Empire State-100 Stories Up (1931)

" … it will only be my legacy."

I have lately encountered several people who seem to be living disappointing stories. They serve as complainants in their own lives, disgruntled by their plotlines. I wonder why they chose to feature those stories, ones which seemed especially designed to disappoint them when they might have chosen any of a nearly infinite array of more satisfying ones. I didn't ask any of them that question, and I suspect, without testing my suspicion, that few of them would offer an easy or appreciative response.

What about reality?
Well, what about reality? I try to let reality take care of itself. Death and taxes, the two traditional inevitables, can hardly be permanently avoided, but I see no good reason why anyone should choose to obsess over avoiding either of them. Great plotlines have been developed over attempting to avoid both, but neither occupation constitutes a fulfilling life's work. Does anybody live purely so that they won't die? Everyone avoiding taxes outsmarts themselves first and so hardly make satisfying protagonists. Better to live a story centered upon pursuing a dream than focus so much energy on avoiding anything. Gather rosebuds while roses still bloom, I say.

If my life's not going so well, I can always tell heyday stories based on when everything seemed to be going better. If it's going fine, I can choose to live in those moments and let lingering regrets and grudges slough off me like forgotten memories. I needn't keep score. Keeping score seems to be one of the better ways to undermine the quality of one's experience and one's stories. Nobody really appreciates a line judge in the audience.

I've been wearing my overalls again this week, doing some heavy lifting, and sweating in the late summer afternoon sun while preparing for painting. I'm facing some daunting challenges, balancing on scaffolding again, and sanding surfaces I spoiled, until they're healed. I revel in this opportunity to undo a little history, to join a crew I mustered to produce a prouder legacy. I do not know how many more seasons I'll be blessed with the ability to still nimbly scamper up scaffolding or submit to satisfying sanding. A time will come—and it feels impending—when I will be relegated to watching, observing from a so-called safe distance, for most intents and purposes, out of the game, the very most dangerous plotline. I intend to celebrate every aching hour remaining, each inevitable abrasion, every additional unintended error, for I submit to this ordeal as I might submit to a sentence to Heaven. Sentenced To Heaven sounds like a sensational storyline!

I marveled earlier this morning at how, after two days erecting scaffolding, not a single muscle group seems to be aching. I feel a few years younger than when I started, and so I look forward to the upcoming regimen, even if it includes, as these always do, some forced marching and some serious aching. It's all adventure, and while I'm otherwise idling here between death and taxes, I might just as well be living a BetterStory. After all, it will only be my legacy.

©2023 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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