Commentary | Life Lines: A guide to living your legendary days

It’s amazing what can happen in 24 hours. That period between one rising of the sun to the next can hold secrets and tell stories that a millennia of Hollywood history could not stand against. They say fact is stranger than fiction; this is an understatement when you look at any particular day on the calendar and trace it back through the centuries.

For instance, a week ago today was January 19. A sombre day because The Daily wasn’t published sure; yet a day that, if turned inside-out, still carries with it the aroma of bloodshed, recognition, discovery and the birth of the detective-fiction genre inventor. Two hundred years ago to the day, Edgar Allen Poe was born. Embrace the relativity of time and you can easily picture the writer of “The Mask of the Red Death” in the very throes of infancy. Staying on theme for a moment, we can go back about half a century to find 68 per cent of American televisions tuned in to I Love Lucy to watch Lucy give birth.

A couple of years before that, in January 1949, 19 per cent of Cuba recognized Israel as a sovereign state. Where exactly this sovereign state’s borders end is still a puzzling matter. The festival that occurred on this same date a mere 12 years ago, when Yasser Arafat finally returned to Hebron to celebrate the handover to the West Bank city to the Palestinian Authority feels very far away.

In other news for January 19, we have snowfall in Miami, Florida (1977), Japanese forces invading Burma (1942), Captain Charles Wilkes circumnavigating Antarctica while claiming a chunk for America (1840), and in 1511 we have Mirandola surrendering to the French (which was probably the last time anybody did that).

Yes, these are events that would be very improbable to connect, but I assure you it is not impossible. If I had enough time and a year’s worth of Dailys to scribble through, I’d even attempt the feat. The point, though, is that January 19 is but one day in 365 days that carries with it a titanic load of stories – stories that affect you and can be affected by you.

And so history stumbles, wanders, rampages (pick your verb) forward. Who knows what will be recorded on today’s epitaph. Whatever it is, know that it is not only the formally- remembered that matters. A politician may die, a star may be born, and yes their echoes in life may be enough to warrant black dots on a page. But do not think less of those things which might be forgotten or might never have been known by the general public. Your roommate’s sick? Take care of her like it’ll be written about in future date recordings. The dog needs a walk? Take him out as if it is labelled “best event of ‘09” in your horoscope.

On the 19 of this first month, whether you were celebrating the Feast of Sultan (Bahai Faith), acknowledging Confederate Heroes Day in Texas (where else?), or contemplating the mysterious and inevitable appearance of the Poe toaster at Edgar’s grave, I hope you lived it like it’ll be written down for generations to come. Because in some strange way, because of the effect your life has on others, it will be.

Johanu’s column appears every Monday. Botha sure does love Poe-isms, so go whip out your quill pins and wax poetic to lifelines@mcgilldaily.com. You know, like The Raven, and shit.


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