I woke up today, like most every other day. From my clifftop perch, the landscape quickly came into focus. I soaked in every ounce of my breathtaking vista. The mature trees in the distance are framed by fluffy cotton ball-like clouds. I can’t help but be captivated by the alluring turquoise hue of the quarry water below. I often wonder about the depth of that calcite laden lagoon. If I could swim, I would definitely enjoy a dip on this August day. I am relatively new when compared to the deposit I was now overlooking. It is hard to imagine that the shear walls that surround me are nearly a half of a billion years old. They have also, literally, moved halfway around the world in their lifetime — beginning as the bed of a tropical sea, within some 17 degrees of the equator. Who knew they would now be closer to the Arctic Circle than their Caribbean crib.
One by one the crew arrives to begin their day. The sawyer is always here first. He has the appearance of a curmudgeon. His eyes are narrowed by years of looking into the sun. He has a mustache that could be used to make a bristle broom 3 feet wide. Despite his facade, he has a heart of gold. For 38 years, he has been reporting to the quarry for duty. Always first, always ready for the day. He welcomes the crew, and today, like every other workday, he spends at least 15 minutes going over the safety practices that will govern the shift and their plan for the day. He wraps the meeting with a stretching session before assigning start up tasks and pre-shift inspections to his loyal followers. Everyone thinks that quarrying is a nasty business. In reality, the industry claims less lives than most other mainstream professions. You are in greater peril as an electrician, landscaper, taxi driver or professional fisher.
As the tranquility of the morning begins to fill with sounds of workers and equipment, I began to ponder on the thing that one often does when they reach my age — my legacy. I begin to measure myself against all those other accomplished members of my family. I have a brother. He is tall, strong and known all over the world. He built some of the most iconic structures in the U.S. Should you ever find yourself in New York City, you will see his work everywhere. Be sure to stop by the building that bears the name of the Empire State. Yes, he built that. Our cousin was of presidential prowess. She resides in a monumental tower across the street from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Several members of her family can be found all over Washington, D.C. They are on The Mall. They hear the secret discussions that take place in the hallowed chambers of the Capitol. Museums even compete to display their works. This branch of my family tree was called upon to memorialize our nation’s heroes through intricate designs that will never erode, never fade and never fail.
Don’t take my word for it. Visit the Vietnam and World War II Memorials. Tour the sculptures of my kin in the likeness of Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr.
While it is a distant relation, another one of my cousins grew to a fame of such epic proportions that over three million people “Rush” to visit her each year. That’s a pretty good draw considering she lives in a small rural community in southwestern South Dakota. I always wondered why she was so popular as an inn keeper. She certainly must be doing something right. She has had the same modest four tenants for the last eight decades.
My uncles were in construction. If you drove on it, swam passed it or flew over it, chances are they were a part of it. The legacy of their work includes the base underneath Route 66, the breakwaters that safeguard every coastal city in America and the most “Colossal” sporting venue in the world. They famously constructed an entire city and then bragged about the fact that “It wasn’t built in a day.”
My grandmother’s family was in the death care industry. They have brought comfort to billions of families all over the world. From unassuming slants to ornate mausoleums and memorials; they made it all. You can see acres upon acres of their most famous work with a visit to Barre, VT, or Elberton, GA.
Then there was my father. He left us many, many years ago. To be clear, he has not passed. Rather, he retired to live the good life. Like many, he now resides in Florida. He basks in the warm sun each and every day. His toe in the water of the pool and a smile on his face. He sees grandchildren several times a year and could not be prouder.
I began today, like most every other day. I think of my legacy. What will I leave behind? What will be my mark on this earth? At my age, one would think that I would have already had things figured out. Some of us are just late bloomers, I guess. Initially afraid of that sawyer I mentioned earlier, we have now grown quite fond of each other. Over nigh, 40 years I have watched him and waited to see what my destiny may be. Will I have a family gather around me every morning at the breakfast bar? Will I build a wall that can only be described as “Great”? Will I pave the way for others to follow? It is too early to tell, but I will find out very soon. Today’s my day to leave my home above those calming blue waters. I will miss the view. I will miss the sawyer. I will leave and I will still be here forever. I am the countertop that supports your glass of Chardonnay. I am the road you drive on. I am the building you report to every day. I am strong. I am lasting. I am sustainable. What’s my legacy? I think I already have one. I am a natural stone.