When finished The Gorge River Span and seeing his design made manifest, the engineer jumped off the bridge (the mythology of South Africa would have it). So too for the Sydney Opera House. Selected for manifestation, though a project of immense cost, the architect never actually got to see it. He did not kill himself; he just never bothered to show up! Ever. Ozymandias himself would frown. We love to erect statues of ourselves, have streets named after us; the legacy of print, of concrete, of photographs, of bronze and gold and pewter and marble, of paintings, and even of remaining in the oeuvre of myth are the measures by which we shall leave the marks of man. Or indeed we shall but become little atomies.
Great journeys end in some instances with parades. Red carpets. Awards. Fame. But possibly the vast amount of great journeys have never been recorded, never been known. A seminal moment for me was standing solo atop Hadrian’s Wall, 2003, and looking out over the vast reaches of the North. In that instant I was Illicitus Reincarnus, a Roman centurion, ripped untimely from my mother’s womb, raised by an unrelenting taskmaster of a father, and so I’d run away to... find the girl I intended to marry! But her father, a Baron Wrathchild, ill-favored towards me in the extreme for my lack of heritage, lack of wealth, lack even of prospects, since he could not quite get rid of me, banished her to a far distant shore where she languished ne’er to be seen no more. So I joined the Legion of Legends, and along with hopes of making my fame (and of course my fortune) I took an outpost up at Hadrian’s Wall there to defend my integrity, my honour, and to prove my worth. And now, as I stood there on that bleak and vast landscape, the never-ending shivers of fruitlessness coursing through me, with the last three years of my being but a soldier of fortune to other men’s designs, I looked back on my life and wandered just what it all was for? All those prayers? All those letters? All those hopes and dreams? All the conversations? And then, just as I turned away to retire for the night from the unending disparity of my ignobleness, some heathen snuck up and lopped off my head! Now, who shall record such a life? Of what significance?
Time waits for no one. The clock did show 10:31 p.m., Sunday, March 17th, and it was done. The intensity of the past seven weeks came to an imperceptible end. M’Lady had retired. The single PDF file, requested by the publisher, was ready. This morning, even as I type, I await the 7:15 a.m. of a pick-up of the USB stick to be conveyed to the local Fremantle Print and Binders. And they shall do the rest. No, wait... that knocking at the door? I went to deliver. ... And back now, my work is done! What is next?
It is to those who disappeared into the vast wastelands of time that I wish to pay deference. Where be the product for their efforts? The explorers who were never heard from again. Little Penelope who jumped a ship to get away from an abusive household and who made her way to some distant shore there to get married and to raise five children, one of whom died fighting off the rebels, the others of whom carried on to have children of their own; what of her? She is forgotten in the great swath of time that did not record her precise passage in the history of mankind. She, like so many others, was but cannon fodder to life’s surge toward some future, day by day. And inasmuch as she once did live (as did my invisible friend, Illicitus Reincarnus) as but a persona non gratia of dim pasts and ancient times, one can only hope that they found but some joy in the rising of the sun, and the unfolding of a new day.
When the odometer of my old Suburban reached 100,000,000 miles (before I realized it was only kilometers) I expected not only to see it do so, but for balloons to spring from the bonnet and for there to be horns blowing! But though I was the driver, I missed the marker. And life went, and goes... on.