I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what I will leave behind when I die. I’m turning 40 this year, and it’s no secret that my contributions to the world haven’t included curing any diseases or proving any theorems. Heck, these days I barely contribute to buying the groceries. Still, I can’t escape the nagging feeling that I need to pass something down to future generations.
And don’t tell me that leaving a happy family around counts. These types who are always on their deathbeds babbling about how the very fact that they spawned constitutes having lived a life worth living are, frankly, delusional. Some even say that raising kids is the most important job you’ll have, but I’m not buying it. I’ve been doing that very thing for a few years, and trust me – the striplings pretty much raise themselves. If Sarah can learn, at age 5, how to whittle her own cutlery, home-brew raw Kombucha, and find her way home on foot from the liquor store after midnight, then anyone’s kid can.
No, I need something lasting, something that will speak to generations after me. Yet I’m hard pressed to come up with anything.
And then I got to thinking – what about writing a manifesto?
Merriam Webster defines a manifesto as “a written statement declaring publicly the intentions, motives, or views of its issuer.” That doesn’t seem too hard, does it? Plus, banging one of these things out practically assures your name a place in the history books. Who hasn’t heard of the Communist Manifesto, by Karl Marx and Frederek Engels? Mein Kampf? And who can forget Valerie Solanas’ SCUM Manifesto, or Ted Kaczynski’s page-turner Industrial Society in the Future a.k.a. The Unabomber’s Manifesto?
Not exactly role models, okay, but you get the point. While searching for some “normal” authors I found a website www.changethis.com, wherein the user submits his or her own personal manifesto, ostensibly in order to kindle some change in society. There’s even a section titled “Recent Manifestos” for the reader to scan. Surely this would be the place to find some of the best rants, right? Here are just a few:
·Shine: Brain Science, Practical Psychology, Ancient Wisdom and the Cycle of Excellence
·The Mistake Manifesto: How Making Mistakes Can Make Us Better
·25 Ways to Distinguish Yourself
·How To Be Creative
·5 Secrets of Sales Superstars
· The Design Funnel: A Manifesto for Meaningful Design
Okay, so maybe “the best” is aiming too high. In fact, these things couldn’t even be called “rants.” I mean, “making mistakes?” “Distinguishing yourself?” “Designing funnels?” If this is what constitutes your average manifesto then writing my own should be a walk in the park, so I got to thinking about what I found wrong with society. What really bothers me? And none of this politics/technology/war stuff, either – what actually troubles me on a daily basis?
I also had to come up with a writing style, since, as anyone knows, manifestos are best remembered when written with lofty, circumlocutory, abstruse prose and a reckless approach to sentence structure and punctuation. Just like I normally write!
So I gave it a go. Here’s what I came up with:
On Bicyclists on the Sidewalk
I have often found myself walking along what could in laymen’s terms be described as the “sidewalk,” and have, with a regularity as faithful as the cycles that maintain precious equilibrium in nature itself, been forced to dodge, sidestep, or otherwise elude the threatening forces of a dozen beings, each perched atop a contraption that allows for locomotion via the presence of – and successful balancing atop of – two large, narrow wheels. The person – often someone early in years and accompanied by one to three contemporaries similarly in reckless motion – produces energy by pushing his feet alternately on a sort of pedal, or rather pedals, which cause the wheels to spin and which in turn propels the individual (or individuals) forward.
What is this abomination? Are there not laws in place prohibiting these miscreants and their vile machinery from roaming these very sidewalks with the impunity they so obviously display? Many a time have I suffered bodily injury, or at least the threat of same, on what would have – nay, should have – been an uneventful and meditative walk to Rite Aid in order to procure a tube of anti-fungal cream. Ruffians! Swine!
Hm. Okay – maybe I’ll try anther one:
On Dog Owners in a Heavily Populated Neighborhood
For who are you, that insists on owning any number of wretched canine for the purpose of constant companionship, when it is clear to even the most obtuse child that you reside in a village so densely inhabited as to preclude even the smallest beast from enjoying even minute of its true nature, to wit: to run freely after tiny fauna, fornicate with abandon, and to roll about in its own excrement? Look – see how close the properties are, how the edifices nearly touch? I mean to say, you don’t even have a freaking yard! Consequently, you must imprison the sorry beasts within the confines of your own house, allowing them outside only but two or three times a day, whereby they will undoubtedly evacuate their bowels and bladders upon even the tiniest patch of grass, most likely next to my Azaleas. Would that it were not daily befouled!
So maybe I need to work on this thing a bit. Eventually I decided that I might get a better grasp of the concept by checking out the motivations of other potential manifesto writers. Regular people, you know, like me. Fortunately, Merriam Webster’s website provides, under the comment section subtitled “What made you want to look up manifesto?,” a glimpse into that minds of these very people. Here are just a few postings, all real:
I am creating a personal manifesto of how I should treat my family then applying the same principles to how I interact with my friends then applying the same principles to how I conduct myself in business then applying the same principles to a specific project I am working on.
So, I just want make sure I know what a manifesto is. –GH
Oh, wow! There’s one manifesto that I can’t wait to get my hands on! Seems positively gripping! Here’s another:
I’m writing a personal manifesto! –LM
Well, that one gets points for brevity, but doesn’t it seem just a bit too cheerful? I mean, one wants a decent manifesto to have some element of anger or at least dissatisfaction with the world in it, doesn’t one? It shouldn’t display the author’s personal affinity for bunny rabbits and Daylilies, for Christ’s sake. Here’s a similar one:
I saw a video the other day that had this in it’s title.. I am thinking of writing my own.. just for my own purpose.. and the process ♥. –JW
“♥???” Are you kidding me? Shouldn’t it be officially established that anyone who uses a “♥” anywhere in a written sentence lacks the appropriate qualifications to write even a greeting card, let alone a monumental Declaration of Purpose?
Alright, I’m going to try one last post…
I just love the song by city harmonic wanted to know what it meant. – anon.
Okay, I give up. Maybe this manifesto business is too much trouble after all. I think I’ll stick to focusing on the smaller, less monumental things in life.
Which reminds me – why isn’t Sarah home yet? The liquor store is only ten blocks away! What’s wrong with kids today?