I knew legacy was false when I saw my grandparents die. Their legacies quickly swallowed up by the black hole of their deaths. I knew legacy meant nothing when Michael Jackson died and his image was sullied forever by his later deeds, overshadowing his younger body of work. I definitely knew that legacy was unattainable when Jerry Doyle died suddenly on July 27, 2016.
Jerry Doyle was an American talk radio host, right-libertarian political commentator, and widely known for his acting on Babylon 5 as Michael Garibaldi. He was also an inspiration to me on the radio. I don’t have a lot of radio heroes. There haven’t been a lot of people whose radio personalities have inspired the hell out of me. Other than Jerry, there are probably a few inspiring radio folks left countable on one hand.
Every day after work I would drive home listening to The Jerry Doyle Show on my car’s AM radio. Jerry had a certain something when it came to easily riding between the political right and left. If Jerry was a “right-libertarian” then I guess that may be what I am. Day after day he gave his listeners his take on the world with a not too right and not too left perspective, with a lot of common sense in between. To me, he wasn’t preaching to either side, but more so just the common sense of living as a human in a functional society. Something I prefer us to also do.
Jerry took great pride in founding his news website EpicTimes.com. Much like our Fourculture, EpicTimes was a place he spoke highly of and clearly put a lot of personal time into. I always felt we had a similar desire when it came to our website goals. His goals for presenting a clearer political picture and the preservation of sanity. My goals for art and the preservation of insanity.
When Jerry died there was tribute after tribute posted to his EpicTimes website. And then I waited. I checked back every day, every week, then once a month, until I found that whoever he had left EpicTimes to had not been as epic about it as Jerry had been. As Jerry described on his show, he would have daily meetings with his team in order to choose what articles would appear on the website. He had personal video content and other contributor editorials. I kept hitting refresh until I lost interest. I kept waiting for his Epic Team to wake up! There was nothing new on EpicTimes and nothing seemed to be forthcoming. Today it is a website with a few regurgitated posts last dated within 2017. There was a smattering of content posted after his death. This made it even more painful because as a creator I could totally see what was happening. They were trying, but it just wasn’t the same. There was probably no one as passionate about Jerry’s website as Jerry Doyle was.
This makes me think about legacies and how easy it is for them to be squandered when the guiding light has gone out. As I’ve often mentioned, people are terrible at actually doing things that matter. Real things. Meaningful things. They busy themselves with the daily grind and sacrifice their brief magical existence on things like laundry, television, and raising families. (Too harsh? Kudos to all who have spent their times dating, mating, and extricating, but it really does seem to be something everyone is doing when not everyone has to.)
I’m an artist. It was as if nature decided that for me. Nothing of my genetics ever seemed to allow me to go down other paths. No children will be had. No family will be as important as my art. I will create things and spend time on them more than with others. I will do stuff. I will inspire people and change lives right here with the media I have access to.
And then I shall die.
If Jerry Doyle could not leave a strong team in place to carry on his legacy then what hope do any of us have for a glimmer of the same? I highly doubt that upon my demise everyone shall feverishly gather to archive all of my shows and catalog every witty word I’ve written. Websites I have helped with and projects like Fourculture, which I am passionate about, shall go on, but who knows what that looks like. What sections of my world shall die lousy deaths without me emailing people every month reminding them about what they need to click on? What shall be lost forever because the scheduled Twitter posts have run dry?
I repeat, people hate doing stuff. I even hate doing stuff. Which is why I can never blame people who stop doing things. If it did not haunt the hell out of me I would retire to the couch, throw a hand to forehead in a Gertrude Stein kind of way, and you would never see me again due to the stack of books piled up and ready to read!
And even if it all lasted and was maintained by a caring group of people, it would still come to an end. These are the thoughts that keep me up at night. Eventually WWIII will blow the data backups. How long before the power grids fail? How long before the world is a giant dust bunny? It wouldn’t take long to unplug any of our legacies like a stammering Max Headroom without a power cord. Because nothing really lasts forever.
You could be a King God one day, a statue the next, and 3000 years later some opposing hashtag movement will be tearing your ass down into darkness.
We live for now. Our legacies are right now. The only true legacy we get to leave is the cosmic dust we’ve already planted. With every life we touch we are embedding ourselves in other people’s timelines and that is the secret to everlasting life. Living on in memory and the inspired actions of others.
I think about the people I’ve inspired and the lives that have changed thanks to the good or bad that I’ve encouraged. People who took a brave leap and are satisfied with the outcome. They took a chance because I was one of their friends, pushing them off a very comfortable ledge. The only living legacy.
As Jerry Doyle inspired me, he still inspires me today thanks to the memories he built during the time when his life and mine crossed paths. Those logical opinions and stories I heard on the drive home every day. So, his website may look pretty dead and his team may have disbanded, but there are still people out there (in here) who are different and better because of his influence. The same with all things on the hamster wheel of life.
We cannot expect statues to last. We cannot hope that our loved ones will archive us. All we can do is live within the now and radiate the love, art, and genuine kindness which makes people become superstars.