Most of us never end of up in a history book, have a building named after us or a statue fashioned in our glorious likeness. We won't write a book or star in a film or found a company that outlives us. We simply live our lives, get by as best we can, until we're no more.
Except that most of us, even if we don't create something of material worth, do leave something behind that guarantees we're remembered: our children.
But what if we never become a parent or grandparent? How and for what are we remembered then?
These existential thoughts crossed my mind as I watched Finding Vivian Maier, a riveting documentary about a mysterious woman who seemed to have her heart set on drifting away and being forgotten, except for the progeny she left behind.
You see, Maier never married or had a family, she had no brothers or sisters, nephews or nieces, and spent her life as a nanny tending to other people's children. But she was obsessed with taking pictures, most of which she hoarded and never showed a soul. And were it not for a twist of fate when she died, she and the images she captured would have remained forgotten for all time.
There's an irony here. Maier didn't take photos of the famous. She captured downtrodden nobodies who, like herself, were slated by society to fade into obscurity. But, whether or not she intended it, her camera, film and monumental talent changed all that. Her art made the people she captured immortal, and it made her immortal too.
You can enjoy more of Maier's amazing work here.