The morning was grey, and the clouds sat forlornly, dangling just barely above our heads, waiting to weep out all their sorrows and soak them deeply into our skin. The August fog clung stickily to my clothing, but still, I sat. I write about this bench far too often, but never have I described its individual beauty. It is black, and metal, and worn in the center where so many sat before me. It is situated perpendicularly to the nearest building, and not quite parallel to the street that it watches, day after day, somehow never growing dreary of the same ole cars cruising routinely in its view. There is a scuff mark on the right armrest – I remember it vividly – and if you place your elbow on it and angle your back just right, you will be able to find sleep-like comfort in the embrace of the antique seat. In no other place have I learned so many lessons as I have while sitting on this bench. It is so integral to so many of my memories that it almost ought to have a name. I have thought about this frequently, but never have I applied the idea. But surely, surely this emblem of wisdom should have some sort of legacy!
That morning, the one that was grey and damp and sorrowful, I pondered how I could commemorate this bench and all the significance that it possesses, and this thought process posed a question: What is a legacy?
In The Myth of Sisyphus, Albert Camus explores the idea of the repetition of life. He uses Sisyphus (a character from Greek mythology who was cursed to eternally push a boulder up a cliff and watch it fall again) to signify that life is just a cycle of the same mundane things happening over and over again. If this is true, and life is redundant and predictable and unsatisfying, then what is the point? What is the purpose of living the same events over, and over, and over again, knowing that at the end of the day, the boulder will come falling right back down the hill? Camus stated that if you choose to “imagine Sisyphus happy,” then you will find your answer.
Sitting on the bench once again, I was reminded of this philosophy. I repeatedly sit in the same spot, in the same position, looking at the same scenery. Even the time of day, the shadows, and often the weather stay consistent. Nevertheless, the whole routine feels so significant and important to me. I always come up with new stories, ponder new ideas, celebrate new revelations. Therefore, I become the happy Sisyphus. I think that this is legacy – not doing something heroic or out of the ordinary, but finding significance and value in simplicity, and sharing this wisdom with others. In a way, this blog is my legacy. My poetry is my legacy. Every person I share my thoughts with is part of my legacy. As for the bench? The bench’s legacy is in its scuff marks, its scratches, and the imprints it makes in the dirt on which it stands. It’s in every photograph that it’s featured in, every poet that wrote their stories while seated on it, every bird that has landed on its back, and every memory recorded in its presence. It seems small. It seems common. It seems insignificant. But this is legacy: the uniqueness one has the audacity to emit in spite of all of the mundaneness of life.