There had to be a first person to do everything. I was the first person to make a basket when they installed the new hoops in Annunciation gym when I was in the third grade. Neil Armstrong was the first man on the moon. Not so different, he and I. But what I really mean is- there had to be a first guy to think, ‘I’ll strap these long tree limbs to my feet and cruise over the snow at speed rather than sink into it.’ So he tried it and we have skiing. There was a guy who saw a boat on the shore and wanted the boat to be in some other body of water that was currently separated by land so he took a shovel and told a thousand other guys about it and challenged their man-hoods enough that they just had to prove to him that they could do it and so they dug. And now we have the Suez and the Erie and the Panama canals.
Be a man of vision. Have a good enough view of the problem that you can see conventional solutions just won’t cut it this time, so you’ll invent your own. Men of vision dedicate their lives to things worth dedicating their lives to. And we have flight. And we put men on the moon and robots on mars and we have telephones and we have telephones from which you can access the whole sum of human knowledge. And we have little schoolteachers in Nazi Germany who say I will die to stand against you if only so you cannot say none of us did.
People of vision shape existence. They touch lives of people they will never know who live long after they are gone. While the world is chock full of pedants that squeeze every penny so they might have just one more than you and people who blow themselves to pieces in what you might call blind faith but I think is just a lack of vision- of not seeing the whole picture- you must stand above that madness and see the potential that every day lies unfulfilled in the world.
Banksy, love him or hate him, said,
‘I mean, they say you die twice. One time when you stop breathing and a second time, a bit later on, when somebody says your name for the last time.’
Magellan died on a beach on the far side of the world but we still say he circumnavigated the globe first because he was the crazy sonofabitch that, while sailing into the setting sun said, ‘Look for us to the East!’ The world was round and he was going to make sure of it the one way he could be certain.
A lady blew herself up in a train station the other day. And others. I walk through grand central station daily and the sheer magnificence of it, you would think- the sheer beauty, the craftsmanship, the engineering, the fact that there was a man who knew it was possible to make a building where all trains headed north from New York City could depart, and then there was a man who actually COULD design such a structure- you would think that these things would be enough to keep her finger off the button, let alone the fact that the train station was full of humans each with individual lives and loves and needs and happiness and sadness, but clearly, she was lacking of vision.
There is a waterfall near my parents lake house that I’ve visited a number of times. Over the eons the water flowing down from the mountain carved it’s way around either side of a rock leaving a massive, incredible vista. Behold:
And you think that because you shot twelve kids trying to learn or you took the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity’s money that people will remember forever the names Dylan Klebold and Bernie Madoff? Sorry to disappoint but if you want your name to last long after your money is gone and your Children have disassociated themselves with you, long after America has finally rejected the medias sick fascination with senseless violence as the worst part of the self perpetuating cycle, you’ll have to do better than that. I won’t even link your Wikipedia pages. Stand on a bridge alone against the charging Etruscans, put your boot print on the moon just because it’s up there, remind the world how close we all are to blindness, break thirteen cavalry charges and therefore all Napoleon’s might at Waterloo. Then, maybe, people will remember.
Astronaut Edgar Mitchell said:
And there it is. All your greed and all your violence means nothing if you can see that this thing called life isn’t just a movie starring you, that when the sun expands and consumes Mercury and Venus and then the Earth, that all the petty squabbles and the grudges and the office politics that consume your day mean nothing.
Climb mountains and fly planes, invent a better telescope to help us see the stars, and sail the seas and dig into the earth with a shovel and some grit. The world is yours but it’s more than the dollar in your pocket and the car in your drive and today.
Be a man of vision.