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Monday, February 6, 2012

Vanity and legacy

Our culture would not permit, nor would I want to use a human skull for contemplation as Hamlet does with Yorick’s skull. So I use the next best thing, bovine and bison skulls. Some members of my family, particularly my wife, abhor this odd practice, mainly because the bovine skull is mounted next to our front door on the veranda and the bison skull is in our living room. But they put up with my eccentricities. For me, these skulls are not mere conversation pieces but graphic symbols of vanity. I use that word as I believe the preacher of Ecclesiastes uses it - “Vanity of vanities; all is vanity” referring to life as fragile and fleeting. 

The bovine skull is from a Scottish Highlander steer. In life, it was magnificent looking animal. In death, all that remains is this skull. “I made me great works; I builded me houses; I planted me vineyards: I made me gardens and orchards, and I planted trees in them of all kind of fruits… Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do: and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit”

Close observation reveals a small hole between the eye sockets. This is from the .22 bullet that put this steer down. Gun enthusiasts discuss the knock down power of various calibers but must always remember that a lowly .22 will do the job. In our daily lives, death often seems so far away until that unexpected traffic accident or sudden illness fetches death as quickly as a 36 grain bullet to this steer.   

Your browser may not support display of this image.Do I see any positive metaphor in this skull? When this skull was discarded in the grass, one of billions of maple leaves fell between the horns on the right temple and the pigment from the leaf was emblazoned on the skull. Although life is vanity, each one of us can make our mark that will persist through time as that maple leaf has.

“One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever.” My father passed way years ago, my mother last year. I will join them in a few years, if not tomorrow or today. What kind of legacy will I leave? I hope it is positive.


Poppy said...

I'm very much enjoying your perspective. Who knew we could learn so much from a skull...

Thank you for this insightful posting. Have a wonderful week!

Anonymous said...

Very beautiful post, as always. Your story sound so much more eloquent than what I tell folks about my deer antler on the mantle. I tell them that I hit the deer but only one antler stuck in my grill (totally fabricated BTW).

Northernhomesteader said...

A couple of years ago we found an intact beaver skull on our trails, including bright orange teeth. It still has a place of honor on top of the book shelf in our games/craft room.

www.FarmLifeLessons.blogspot.com said...

I am touched. The skull speaks loudly.