American Graffiti

Bus Driver Song – Flight of the Conchords

Today, I have more “graffiti.”  It started me wondering about the movie “American Graffiti.”  Why is it called that?  I mean, was graffiti always around?  I thought it started in the 70’s or something like that.  I mean, yeah, I know that there has probably always been an impulse to write your name in some way, but the movie isn’t about a bunch of guys running around trying to rack up cans.  So, what’s up with the name?

I googled around and found some pretty interesting answers.  One such answer explained that graffiti is about leaving your mark so that it’s visible to others.  Well, ok, so yeah, I guess the kids in American Graffiti were sort of struggling with that.  And since the movie is based on George Lucas’ life, I suppose it can be said that at least one character in the film made a mark.

So then, of course, that got me to thinking about how we leave our mark on society.  For some, it’s fairly easy to see.  Take any famous person you can think of and you know why they are famous.  But what about the rest of us?  How are we leaving our marks?

What are ways that we leave our mark?  Find a cure for cancer.  Discover something that wasn’t previously known.  Invent something that makes things better for others.  Sing a beautiful song that everyone wants to hear.  Play an outstanding character in a movie.  Win a championship game.  Get a gold medal.  But, what if none of those things are in our talent base.  Does that mean we are doomed to being somehow lesser than others?

For me, I’ve never particularly wanted to be famous.  When I walk into a room, I don’t crave the spotlight.  Does that mean I am doubly doomed?

It started me thinking about a trip that I took to Jamaica with my best girlfriend.  We landed in Montego Bay via Jamaican Air and took a bus from the airport to Negril.  What I saw of the country surprised me.  Parts of it appeared to be very poor.  At one point, I saw a skinny cow tied to a tree near the water.  On the other side of the road, in a ram-shackled school building, children ran around barefooted and poorly clothed.  By the time we stopped at a local convenient store, my spirits were somewhat dampened.  If the other people on the bus were affected, they didn’t show it.  I couldn’t help wondering about this strange and beautiful island and her people.  The bus driver noticed and came over.  He did his best to cheer me up, telling me stories of silly things he’d done in his youth.  I did enjoy his jovial nature.  As the other members of the bus were coming back, the driver turned to me and said, “We depend on your happiness to make our living, sweet lady, please cheer up and enjoy your stay on our island.  When you get back to America, tell them that we treat you very well, so they will want to come.”

We depend on your happiness…it has stayed with me through all these many years since my visit.  The bus driver made his mark on me that day.  He told me something that was very heartbreaking and beautiful in a bittersweet sort of way.  We depend on your happiness.  What if all of us started off our days with the understanding that our job is to do everything we possibly can to make others happy.

The Dane tells me that he knew a brick mason once and they had a conversation about the brick mason’s job.  The brick mason told The Dane, “There are many that I work with who just build walls.  It makes them unhappy.”  The Dane said to him, “But you are always so happy.”  The man nodded and said, “That’s because I am building a cathedral.”

The Dane and I have learned very valuable lessons from a brick mason and a bus driver.  I’d say they added a bit of graffiti to our lives.

Top – Torrid; Shorts – Walmart (similar at Torrid); Shoes – Aerosole.

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