Mrs. Backyard Poet was watching some movie the other day. I couldn’t tell you what the name of the movie was or anything else about it, except the closing theme song. It was simply the words ‘you can do anything’ repeated over and over again for what seemed like a thousand times. I was so irritated with it that I got up and left the room. But now, many days later, those words are still stuck in my head. Proving the analogy ‘keep it simple stupid’ is still the best practice and it reminded me of how our lives can be defined by just a few lines or even a few words.
Of all the eloquent speeches and writings of Martin Luther King, Jr. most people can sum him up with the simple phrase “I have a Dream”. Very few of us remember much more. What about Abraham Lincoln? If asked what words from ‘Abe’ do you remember, a vast majority would say “Four score and seven years ago” When we hear, “Elementary my dear Watson”, we immediately think of Sherlock Holmes even though it was never said by that character. Who can tell me the person responsible for, “What is the use of living, if it be not to strive for noble causes and to make this muddled world a better place for those who will live in it after we are gone? How else can we put ourselves in harmonious relation with the great verities and consolations of the infinite and eternal? And I avow my faith that we are marching towards better days. Humanity will be cast down. We are going on swinging bravely forward along the grand high road and already behind the distant mountains is the promise of the sun.” Hardly anyone; but what about, “You make a living by what you get; you make a life by what you give” then we instantly think of Winston Churchill.
Because it’s simple and easy to remember.
Not yet convinced…let me give you a few simple words and see who comes to your mind. Disclaimer…some are not actual quotes from the person accredited for saying them.
“Let’s make America great again”
“Read my lips, no new taxes”
“I am not a crook”
“Walk softly and carry a big stick”
“We are bigger than Jesus”
“Play it again Sam”
“Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness”
“You get a car, you get a car, and you get a car”
Even when talking about our neighbors we shorten them to a few words. ‘He’s the bald guy that has the poodles’ or ‘the woman that drives the red minivan’ or ‘the couple with all the kids’. I can remember my father telling an acquaintance about me once.,“You know…the one that lives in the city. He’s married to Deb”. Thing is, everyone knew who he was talking about.
So I’ve been thinking, as us old people often do, about how I would like for my epitaph to read.
Father, Husband, Son, Poet…Friend.
How do you want to be remembered?