Many years ago, when I had sailed away to the rest of the world and a completely new life, I still wanted to leave my ‘mark’ in the old one. As we entered the Strait of Gibraltar on the Spanish freighter, the only other two passengers and I made good use of a wine bottle we had just emptied at dinner and the steward Antonio had saved for us.
We scribbled notes onto slips of paper and stuffed them into the bottle. Antonio re-corked it, and after we each planted a kiss on the bottle, he threw it into the narrow waterway that separates Europe from the Dark Continent.
What a thrill it was for me to fantasize about who might someday find and uncork that bottle and read my note. No matter that I hadn’t written on it anything of substance or great imagination. That man, woman, or child from some elsewhere would read my name and feel significant, just as I felt writing it, simply because of this mysterious, ephemeral connection made with someone from another world and time.
And isn’t this something we all yearn for in this world – to reach someone and be reached, to touch and be touched – to commune-i-cate.
On a recent trip, visiting Prague, I walked across the Charles Bridge, built of stone in the mid-1300s, and still beautiful. I touched the facades of some magnificent buildings whose architecture, art, and substance touched me back. They communicated with me through the presence of the artists and artisans who devoted their lives to building them centuries ago. Did they have any idea how many lives would be touched by their work or for how long?
Do we have any idea who might be touched and in what ways by what we create or do or say or write every day? Or what effect we might have or could have even by our mere presence in the world? What legacy do we leave?