Making Marks

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I have this thing about beaches. Whenever I go to one, I like to:

a. Sing a bossa nova standard called Dindi by the water.

b. Write my name in the sand.

The first one makes sense: I’m a singer. But the second one, I’m not too sure about. I remember the first time the name writing habit stuck. I was in Wilmington sophomore year of college for a conference, and our delegation stopped at the beach. I diverged a little from the group, and then wrote my name in the sand, along with some crush whose identity is none too important now. The second time I returned to Wilmington for a Spring Break trip, I did the same thing, exempting the crush. My name stood there, alone, in the sand: Jumaane.

At Ventura Beach, I would get to make my mark yet again, but this time, it would be on the complete opposite coast. Why do I do this?

I think, for the most part, we would all like to be known for who we actually are. In me, there has been the desire to be remembered exactly as I am, and how I see myself. This wish is not unique, and it is just that: a wish, a hope. I’ve sometimes struggled to remind myself of that fleetingness. Then I saw the Fault in Our Stars.

Before I begin, hear me out. I’m NOT the kind of guy who quotes movies; I am surprised I’m even doing it now. It is the fact that I am willing to do it, however, that will show the lesson has stuck. Hazel Grace, the main character, said to Augustus Waters: ‘There will be a time when no one will remember Cleopatra…’

I can’t remember the rest, but that part stuck. No one remember Cleopatra? The woman who ruled Egypt? Who is seen as a standard of power and beauty, and continues to fascinate imaginations even today? THAT woman?

Then I got the lesson. Yes, there will be. In 5 billion years or so, when the Sun decides that it has had enough and ceases to shine, who will know that Cleopatra existed? Or that Whitney Houston was the greatest live singer in history (don’t argue with me on this, there’s Youtube for a reason)? Or that there are people in history who have not been known maybe as they deserve to be? Michael Jackson, Doña Marina, or Amy Winehouse, for example?

It will all be erased, both the true history that actually transpired, as well as the lies that people had to say. To me, this seems a fitting way for life to correct itself: just erase it all.

So when I wrote my name today on the beach, I didn’t think about whether it was still there ten seconds or even ten minutes after I turned away. It is going to get erased, whether by water or by human. The need to prove that it was written down didn’t matter so much to me either. I’ve learned that maybe life, and what happens after it has been lived, doesn’t have to be taken so seriously. At the end of the day, I know what my mark was, and that is enough for me.

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