“If all human lives depended upon their usefulness – as might be judged by certain standards – there would be a sudden and terrific mortality in the world”
-Gene Tunney, Boxing Champ in the 1920s.
The town where I reside is not a large community and a lot of new development is blocked/stopped or not even suggested because there is a strong desire to keep the community small, quaint, artsy, and genuine. I can count the number of fast food restaurants on a hand that has two fingers missing and it seems no others will be allowed to set up shop in this town - this is good. I stopped at one of the two local grocery stores not too long ago and struggled to find parking, as parking here is a chronic headache. Driving in circles, I remembered headed toward the underground parking garage with stairs and ramp that lead directly to the store entrance. How very convenient given that rain was falling quite heavily.
As I walked up the ramp, wet boots stomping, I noticed the shopping cart graveyard that lined one wall of the parking garage. A seemingly endless pile of carts were stacked and interlocked. Old and forgotten. Broken and rusty. I wondered why they sat here still, why were they being saved? Maybe a resurrection of some sort was going to take place and their usefulness would be restored? It reminded me of the Land of Misfit Toys in Rudolph. “Nobody wants a Charlie-in-the-Box…”
My Own Usefulness
I couldn’t help but think about myself and a time that would someday be realized when my own usefulness would no longer occur to anyone. Even to myself. In the grand scheme of all that there is, it is very easy to lose sight of the whole picture. You know the picture, the one that shows me being a friend, a daughter, a wife or a mother, as well as the one that proves that my strategy worked, that my intuition was right. The one that shows my career as a string of events that actually made sense to someone other than me. The one that says my contribution was a good one. Even though I never even knew the “thirty steps of…” any individual process. Even though I didn’t pursue that Master’s degree. Even though I never made a million dollars. Even though the only thing I own outright is a 9-year old Honda Accord. Even though I have left good jobs because my principles would not allow me to stay.
Life isn’t as easy as that
We don’t get to take the un-useful things, parts, or people in our lives and stash them in an underground garage. And we don’t get to hide out there either – even when we want to or think our usefulness has run its course. Falsities, fatigue, and fear can take over and conquer, if allowed. We hold it, the perception of self, in our own palms where it can be either crushed or set free, planted or given away. What we choose and how we fashion it is, indeed, up to us, as individuals. But the effect is on the whole. Usefulness is in the eye of the beholder, or is it?
“If all human lives depended upon their usefulness – as might be judged by certain standards – there would be a sudden and terrific mortality in the world” -Gene Tunney, Boxing Champ in the 1920s.
Seemed like a useful guy outside of the ring, huh?