Most lives vanish #PaulAuster #TheBrooklynFollies

Joyce and I hadn’t reached the December of our lives, but there was no question that May was well behind us. What we were together was an afternoon in mid to late October, one of those bright fall days with a vivid blue sky above, a gusty nip in the air, and a million leaves still clinging to the branches – most of them brown, but with enough golds and reds and yellows left to make you want to stay outdoors as long as you can.

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I was no one. Eventually, we all die, and when our bodies are carried off  and buried in the ground, only our friends and families will know we are gone. Our deaths wouldn’t be announced on radio or television. There wouldn’t be any obituaries in The New York Times. No books would be written about us. That is an honor reserved for the powerful and the famous, for the exceptionally talented, but who bothers to publish biographies of the ordinary, the unsung, the workaday people we pass on the street and barely take the time to notice?

Most lives vanish. A person dies, and little by little all traces of that life disappear. An inventor survives in his inventions, an architect survives in his buildings, but most people leave behind no monuments or lasting achievements: a shelf of photograph albums, a fifth-grade report card, a bowling trophy, an ashtray filched from a Florida hotel room on the final morning of some dimly remembered vacation. A few objects, a few documents, and a smattering of impressions made on other people. Those people invariably tell stories about the dead person, but more often than not dates are scrambled, facts are left out, and the truth becomes increasingly distorted, and when those people die in their turn, most of the stories vanish with them.

Paul Auster – The Brooklyn Follies

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