Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Leaving Your Mark (pt 2) get back to pondering about "leaving your mark"...

Lately, I've been reading one of those thin "Images of America" books from my town's historical society - you know the ones: a sepia photo on the front with lots of black and white photos inside and little tid bits about "what was" compared to "what is now." I love learning the history of people, places and things, especially when it's so close to home - literally. That parking lot? Used to be where the town stables were. That housing development? Used to be verdant fields stretching as far as the eye could see. I don't know any of the people in the photographs, but it doesn't matter.

As I flipped through the pages the other night, my husband commented on the photos and wondered what the "next generation" photo book would show. Years ago, at the end of the 1800s through the early 1900s, photographs were a big deal. The technology was new and exciting. Photos were special treasures. They captured moments in time that gave insight.

Fast forward to 2009. Digital technology is current. Photos on digital cameras and phones, no more film. Kodak has recently discontinued Kodachrome film (even if I still love the Paul Simon song). I actually miss taking my roll of film to be developed, anxiously waiting to receive that small package of processed 4"x6"surprises. I supposed you could still have film developed, and I have to say I'm jealous of those who have their own dark rooms and know how to process film.'s 2009. For the casual photo-taker like me, it's point, shoot, look at the playback to decide if it's acceptable, download and share. With the exception of my wedding and honeymoon photos, I haven't had photos printed in years. KodakGallery even threatened to remove our online accounts because we continually uploaded albums online but have not printed in the last 12 months.

So, where does that leave our "next generation" photo book? Some might say, nothing's changed. Technology is better, faster, sharper. We'll always have photos. Maybe. But will future generations get a feeling for how we lived? As evident by the ease of deleting photos, among other things, we have become a disposable society - daresay, a restless society - one that may not value things the same way as earlier generations. What do our photos say about us?

Don't mind me...I'm just feeling a bit nostalgic again. But it's food for thought, don't you think?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Radio, Radio (volume 2)

I never thought I'd be saying this, but I found a new love. Or at least, a new crush.

You've read my rave about WRXP (still the best rock radio station in the NYC area, hands down.) But when I'm not in my car (I think that's the only place I intentionally listen to radio these days, when I'm not plugged into my ipod), or, more accurately, when I'm on the computer, I listen to Radio Paradise.

Call my discovery of this Radio Paradise a very happy accident. I had read something about Pandora Radio and wanted to check it out. But because I have a poor memory, I searched Paradise Radio. The link for RP came up, and the rest is history. I still haven't gotten over to Pandora Radio, so I have no input on that but I hear it's also awesome. If you've listened, by all means, please share.

So...I am in music heaven...or Paradise, so to speak. It's an online radio station based out of Paradise, CA...or so I can gather. I really don't know much about the station other than the music "is mixed by real humans" and that mix is out of this world. While most radio stations (online or otherwise) stick to one genre, Radio Paradise plays an eclectic brand of music...and to my ears, the best stuff I've heard...maybe ever. For instance, when was the last time you hear "London Calling" by The Clash immediately followed by the "Twilight Zone Theme?" Or "Il Buono, Il Brutto, Il Cattivo (The Good, The Bad & The Ugly)" followed by Imogen Heap?

There are songs/artists I have never heard before, songs/artists that I have never heard on radio's a weird, but pleasing mix. Kind of like my ipod on steroids.* The assortment of electronica, modern and classic rock, world music, classical, jazz is great, but if you're looking for standard pop, R&B, and hip hop, you might be disappointed (but I doubt that you will).

RP has been around for a few years and I'm shocked that I am only now finding out about it. Better late than never. And I want the world to hear what I hear. Oh, the goodness!

*The Humble Pen does not promote steroid use. Just in case you needed to know.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Leaving Your Mark (pt 1)

This weekend, I saw a bumper sticker that read "Leaving your mark is overrated."

Those 5 simple words struck me. Probably not in the way they were intended, but they struck me just the same.

The bumper sticker was from the "Leave No Trace" Center for Outdoor Ethics shop . The center is basically to help foster understanding, respect and commitment to enjoyment of outdoor activities with the least amount of damage to the environment.

When I saw it, though (ironically, as we were both stuck in NJ shore traffic, no doubt adding to our carbon footprint), it translated in my brain as "Leaving a legacy is overrated." And it blew just about all I had known out the door for that brief minute.

I cannot think of a single person who does not want to leave his or her "mark" on the world. I know I want to. You probably do, too. When my mother passed away over 18 years ago at the age of 39 (8 years from my current age), she had already built a "legacy" that is still highly regarded. As a parent, she, without a doubt, left a lasting impression that shaped (and continues to shape) her children. As a teacher, her students learned lessons that they carry with them today. As a person, she conducted herself with grace, intelligence, and love that remains with all those who knew her. She did not plan or map this out as some kind of strategy; it was organic. It was truthful. She didn't even have social media to help her extend her reach (imagine that). So, then, I ask myself...what will be my so-called legacy.

I struggle with this all the time. Maybe you do, too. Maybe not. Some people are satisfied with just living and having it all sort of come together. What happens, happens. If a legacy emerges, fine. Others have a very specific plan. Whether genuinely philanthropic or self-serving, they may chose actions that change the condition or situation of people or places that will, one way or another, be least for a few years. For generations? That would depend on alot of factors, which I won't get into now.

I stress over what my "mark" will be. What are we doing here? What am I doing here? Our lives must serve some kind of purpose, right? Am I doing anything that will improve someone's life, that will make a difference? Is it something that I sought or something that sought me? Am I forcing the change, and is the change needed? Years from now, will anyone even care that I lived? Will I be remembered as a good person or a selfish, lazy one? Does it matter what people might think about me?

Yes, I can really be that neurotic. Welcome to my world. But in all seriousness, after seeing that bumper sticker, it had me wonder...why am I stressing over this? Do I really need to leave my mark? What difference would it make anyway?

I suppose it comes down to this: Whatever the reason for our existence, we are not here to suck dead air and take up wasted space. We are on this earth with each other for a reason, and I believe we each have a talent to bring about a change. Now...all we have to do is figure what that talent and/or change may be...