One of the interesting factoids about fossils is that the black stuff you see in prints like this:
…is the carbon residue from the body of the organism itself. It’s all that is left of the animal or plant and is squeezed thinner than a hair and sandwiched between the layers of rock. The sole testimony left to the entire life of a creature.
I got to thinking about that the other day when I contemplated the life of Meg Wyllie. You actually know her if you are familiar with pop culture at all. She was born in 1917 and lived a rich, full life as a character actress. In the 50s and 60s she was on every TV show there was. She lived for 84 years from her birth in Honolulu to her death on New Year’s Day 2002. She was once beautiful young woman with a life as full of relationships and friends as anybody’s:
And yet, as the weight of time presses down on all her experiences and achievements squished in the rock layers of history, she will likely be remembered only for this thin carbon layer fossilized in pop culture:
Yep. That’s Meg as the Talosian Keeper in “The Menagerie”, one of the earliest (and greatest) Star Trek episodes. In a century, this thin residue is all a civilization will recall of her whole life.
And that makes me think of Pontius Pilate, who likewise was a human being with a whole life of accomplishments, achievements, regrets, fear, hopes, and loves–all of which nobody but God remembers. An entire life from birth to death completely gone to dust except for one single afternoon carrying out a minor bureaucratic task that any number of other Roman functionaries had carried out in identical fashion across the length and breadth of the Empire. But unlike all of them, Pilate had his minor bureacratic decision caught, pressed into the rock of eternal historical memory and reduced to pure, everlasting, fossilized carbon in the words, “He was crucified under Pontius Pilate”.
It makes me wonder what I might be remembered for; what seemingly trivial thing I might do or say that could wind up being the only thing the world would ever recall of me.