As I write this, it is a bright, sunny August Sunday. I feel I ought to be outside. Yet I spent the entire morning searching through boxes and old files, searching for a piece of lyrics, someone dear to me, sent me, as I started Design School six years ago. That person, my grandfather, has since then passed. And this piece of paper, which I insensitively had taped to the front of my first-year design history folder, has now become one of his most valued legacies.
I just reached the point where I thought I had carelessly tossed it before my last move. Then I found it. Relief.
This time of year marks the one-year anniversary of my grandfather’s passing. I am – or was – his eldest grandchild, and he was my only living grandparent, for almost as long as I can remember. He was a trooper, he managed to stay alive just long enough to watch me graduate with a master’s degree, in something, I’m not sure he completely understood. My grandfather lived his whole life in the countryside, and he died there too, in the only house, my mother ever knew as home, when growing up. Nicotine-stained wallpapers, deer antlers everywhere, and stories from days bygone. That is what I remember best from my grandfather’s house. He was a man of the forest, and of the fields – a farmer – and he was a storyteller.
My bookshelf counts two manuscripts, two books, he wrote, about his life. Self published, and poetically named; ‘A Kid from Vrinnes – Visiting the Memory’ and ‘Unscientific Verses from a Life in the Outlying Fields’. I haven’t read them. Yet.
My grandfather contained so many stories, and he told them so many times. I think that his stories are what kept him alive for so long – alone, in the outskirts of a forest. I am not at all sure where this sudden reflection upon legacy is heading.
I later ripped off the front page of that design history note folder, and kept it, because those lyrics, my grandfather had written – he even did it on a computer, with spelling mistakes and all, big stuff – were the ultimate words of acceptance. Go be creative, Kid.
Being the eldest grandchild, we talked a lot about futures, and I would always try to imagine, what he would have done differently, had he been given a chance to re-live his life; Because he loved words. He even collected them, and I helped him put them together in small books. Homonyms were one of his favourites. Words, that have the same spelling, but have different meanings.
He really wanted me to study literature. I wanted to go to Design School. That verse he wrote me, was his green light, and all of his best wishes for my future. He wrote ‘A Small Ode to the Line – for the Creative’. I tried to make some sense of it in English:
You are sitting ready. The pen is pointed towards the paper,
be careful not to make a crazy streak!
And yet, if it is for the agriculture, things you sit and tackle,
you will not get past without using ‘dirty tricks’.
But if you want to blast hits,
and make things that could give you hugs,
then don’t do as others usually do,
This old fool who sat and wrote,
this way out in the countryside,
Draws here a ————– in the sand.
It rhymes in Danish. It’s old man’s talk, and I love it.
My point is, that I want to make some kind of impact too; through big projects, but also through the little things. Chances are, that I will never save the world through my creative practice, but I would like to leave behind a legacy, valuable enough, for someone to furiously look through boxes to find a memory that changed something within them.
I am sure I will.
I wonder if anyone else holds on to front pages of note folders, because they carelessly stuck something valuable to it. I hope so.
I hope I can generate both personal and professional legacy worth writing columns about. My grandfather sure did.
Only the future will know, so:
Carpe fucking Diem.
ALLUSION is the personal column written by designer Sidsel Søgaard Spas.
ALLUSION is a space to blabber about current topics, life, or just about anything she finds immediately relevant. Sidsel is particularly fond of asking questions, serious humour and is not afraid of being wrong.
ALLUSION, noun: A passing or casual reference, an incidental mention of something, either directly or by implication.