Thursday, March 10, 2011
Pictured above are the rusty remnants of a bygone era, reels of recording tape containing nearly a decade of wasted musical effort on my part- I mean that I was wasted when I made the effort, not that the effort was wasted. It wasn't.
I don't think that any creative effort is every truly wasted, even if it is witnessed by no one but the creator and lasts no longer than the time they spent conjuring it out of the void. There is joy to be found in the creative process itself, be it wringing unholy howls out of a guitar or writing down ideas that no one, not even yourself, will ever see again.
If that sounds futile, it is because it is futile. Everything worthwhile is.
That doesn't mean that actions don't have real and tangible consequences, good or bad, or that there is no point in trying. Trite-sounding or not, trying is its own reward, we learn from each attempt we make, large or small, profound or mundane; and just because there's no real point to it doesn't mean there is no real hope to have or reward to be gained, it just means that in some distant but inevitable future there will come a time when the Sun expands and swallows the Earth and nobody knows or cares who Elvis or The Beatles were, so they certainly won't know or care who you were or what you did- or didn't do because you thought it was hopeless to try.
On a recent business trip, my return train was delayed and when I asked the Amtrak Customer Service attendant how long it would be, he informed me that there had been a "fatality on the track" and the train would be held indefinitely while the coroner and police did their investigation, but he could put me on the next train instead, just a couple hours away. That sounded good to me. I didn't ask about the nature of the fatality, but he told me anyway- it was probably a suicide, and that those had been more and more common lately. The worst one were the ones in cars, he added. I thought about that, thanked him and went to grab some dinner.
As I ate, I silently cursed the inconsiderate jerk who had chosen my train for their suicide. Couldn't they have chosen a less disruptive method to off themselves? Suicide by locomotive doesn't sound especially pleasant and it can't be fun for the people who have to scrape up afterwards either.
After dinner I wanted coffee, so I went to the ubiquitous Sux- and my wallet was gone! My ID, debit card and cash, all gone and me with suddenly no way to get home or get my car out of the parking lot once I got there. I frantically raced back and forth along my path looking,nothing. I asked the sandwich shop if I left it there. Nope, sorry.
My train was leaving soon and I still had my ticket but you need an ID once you get on. I don't know what happens if you don't have ID and I didn't want to find out. I was at a loss as to what to do next when I suddenly heard my name on the PA. I was being paged to the customer service booth by the gentleman I'd spoken to earlier.
The attendant had my wallet, someone had turned it in with my cards and cash intact! I asked him who had done so and he pointed out a homeless-looking man hovering around outside the little service office. I went outside and spoke to the hovering man, thanked him and gave him my cash, figuring it wasn't much and I'd have lost it anyway. And the man's act of decency was priceless.
What would you do if you saw a wallet on the floor of a busy rail station? How would it differ from finding it on a deserted street?