The road goes on forever and the party never ends, right?
I’m always a mix of emotions when standing over Jim’s gravestone. But what I kept thinking about yesterday on the 6th year of his death and as I let the whiskey burn the back of my throat was how when the party of life ends, there’s nothing you can do about it. And it’s all about what you’ve done and what you didn’t. The kind of man you were. The legacy you’ve left behind. The people you’ve served. The people you’ve hurt. Those you’ve loved, and those you’ve loved. Those that were one night stands and those that were eternal friends. It’s about those that stand by you in those final moments—be it bleeding in the road or hooked up to a dozen overly mechanical machines in a hospital room.
And the bitch about legacy is you don’t get to decide what yours is. There’s been a million humans who deserve to have a legacy long after their death and we don’t know their names. Counterpoint, there’s been a million humans who don’t deserve a legacy at all and yet they’re immortal in time and history.
For some, a legacy is their name on a building. For others, it’s the family you’ve created. For me, I often think that at least, if I have a son and convince his mother to take my name, we’ll have a 5th generation H.T. Hanley that carries on the family legacy. Beyond that, who knows? Maybe it’s Nine13, maybe it’s some future civic engagement that I’m unable to foresee at this point in time. Maybe it’s some viral YouTube video of me doing something incredibly stupid. Let’s be real here, with me, the possibilities range from awesome to just downright hilarious.
I’m proud of what I’ve built, I’m proud to be where I’m at for this moment in time. I’ve sacrificed more than I even realize to get here. I’ve survived more than most my age. I haven’t become (too) jaded. I’m able to look back and appreciate a rocky past while being engaged with the future. I’m excited for what the next months and years hold for me.
A mentor once reminded me, “you can’t escape your past, you can’t predict your future, you can just be you and be the best at what you do and fight like hell for what you want most.”
And that reminder is some of the best advice I’ve gotten in the entirety of my twenties.