The passing of seminal artists always has an effect on those fans who remain behind. With their deaths, we are confronted with a review of the full reach of their creativity and contribution to society as a whole. The magnitude of their contributions can easily be taken for granted while the artist is alive and creating, yet as in many things, it isn't until we posthumously acknowledge the power of their legacy, that we fully appreciate their artistic impact.
Recently, TurfNetters from north of the border (and in many pockets of the USA) had the opportunity to say farewell to one of the most enigmatic artists that Canada has ever produced. Gord Downie, lead singer of the band The Tragically Hip, passed away after a two year battle with brain cancer. Downie was one of those rare performers who encapsulated what it meant to be Canadian. The band's classically Canadiana lyrics and blues/rock music, which spanned a thirty year career, saw millions grow up with the Hip as the soundtrack of their lives.
After sharing the tragic news of Downie's cancer diagnosis with the public, the group made the bold announcement that they would make one last trek across the country to say farewell through song. It was a memorable tour that culminated with an epic final show watched by millions of Canadians (
Shortly after the tour ended, Downie released a solo project that dealt with long and devastating history of how the Canadian government has treated Native Canadians (The Secret Path). He finished by releasing a deeply personal record (Introduce Yourself) just days after his passing. It was his letter of reflection and gratitude to all those who had an impact on his life.
To say that Downie lived his last years with humility, creativity and courage would be a gross understatement. The man was a creative genius who never stopped pursuing his art until the bitter end.
As I reflected this week on Downie's passing, the notion of 'legacy' kept haunting me. Not so much how people will remember us when we are gone, but more so the impact we have on those around us on a daily basis. Those small moments and interactions with loved ones, coworkers, and complete strangers are the moments in our lives by which we can create a special legacy which endures.
We have a unique opportunity as Superintendents to reach out to many people. From our management teams, turf crews, golfers, industry partners, and fellow greenkeepers; to our friends, families, and our communities in which we live and work, there are innumerable ways in which to leave a positive and lasting impact. It is usually the sum of all those seemingly insignificant interactions which has the greatest influence over time. Sharing a smile with a stranger, taking the time to listen to someone's problems, or simply reading a book to a child can create an imprint which reaches far beyond the daily grind of tending golf courses.
Those artists who leave the biggest mark on society do so by showing us possibility. They give us a glimpse into what things could be if only we imagine the world as powerfully, honestly and beautifully as they do. Even if only for brief moments, they enlarge our lives through their committed presence to creating art in their chosen path. This is the impact that living with presence and meaning can have on those around us. But it does require our committed intention towards engaging fully in our lives as each new moment presents itself to us.
Today I shall behave, as if this will be the day I will be remembered. Dr. Seuss