X Marks the Spot! Well. Maybe Not Always...
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X Marks the Spot! Well. Maybe Not Always...

How leaving your mark isn't always visual.

X Marks the Spot! Well. Maybe Not Always...
Ryan Cox

My high school psychology teacher once told me,” The purpose of having children is to leave your mark on the world, as they will hold similar ideals and values to you.” My high school English teacher once told me, “ To leave your mark on the world, is to leave it different than how you entered it.” Well, these people really need to collaborate and get their shit together because I am either having kids or doing some crazy stuff to change the world, not both. All jokes aside, changing the world is always something that has been on my to-do list. I have always dreamed of being remembered long after I am gone, through maybe a quote or a record or creating a way of doing something so revolutionary that it is normal practice in the future. But that all takes so much time! I’m a millennial, I want instant gratification, that’s why I use Snapchat so much. But, I have found my own way to leave my mark on the world, right now, and you should try it too.

As a proud New Hampshirite, I love to hike, be outside, I love to adventure! But I hate taking pictures while doing it. A picture can capture an image, an environment, but it can’t capture a feeling and that’s why I adventure! The adrenaline, the sweat, the wind in my hair! It's like the phrase Carpe Diem were written just for me when I am out living life. With that, everywhere I go, I leave my mark. Literally. I have grown to call it Dead Denny, a circle with a beak looking shape attached to it and an x, where an eye would go. Like Kilroy of Patton’s army or the brand of a wood maker, it’s not just a simple mark, there is a story hidden in it. It started with a doodle in my freshman English class. I would rearrange the 3 letters in my last name to make designs and one day, I found one I kind of liked. The O had an X attached to it and the C was just a bolded part of the O. Soon, it evolved into what is now Dead Denny and I started leaving it. Everywhere. Under desks in hotels, drawn in the sand on beaches, on napkins that fell onto a diner floor, it’s even hidden on a national monument (Shhhhh, don’t tell!) I began leaving my mark in hopes, someone would walk by and see it, maybe even wonder it’s story. I never take pictures of him (The only picture is the one you see atop this article) but I always remember where I left him. And with this, we should all leave our mark! We were here, on earth, we lived! We deserve it! And not all marks, have to be physical.

When my grandfather wasn’t being Santa or a recreation or being, you know, a father, he was a bird carver. He carved the most elegant birds out of wood, so beautiful, it looks like they flew straight out of a painting. No bird was safe from his eye, Blue Jays, Cardinals, Barn Owls, you name it, if it had wings, he could carve it. These birds were so scared to my family, not only because of their beauty but because it was such a big part of the patriarch of our family. They were so important to the point when a Cox graduated from college, they were given a bird, carved by my grandfather. Due to his death, before some of us graduated college, we got to pick a bird when we cleaned his house. Funny enough, I saved a drawing of a bird, a partially done bird, and a finished Eastern Bluebird. It turns out, I received all three stages of the carving process, as the drawing was a Bluebird and the partial carving was also a Bluebird. My favorite part of all three of these things, though, was not the beauty or the tradition, but the mark. My grandfather being a widdler, he had to have a mark! His famous mark is an X inside an O, inside a C. To my family, it is iconic. Some of us have it tattooed on us, as there is no medieval crest we go by, no family shield, we identify by that mark. It is more than three letters or something found at the bottom of my grandfather’s carvings. It means family, and all the things we believe in as a collective. Those three letters are more powerful than any manuscript or book. That mark is both physical and idealistic. That is how we as people, can leave our mark.

We hear the word mark, think a brand or a cut or something simple and visual. But marks are so much more than that. A mark is something that is a mental iceberg. Simple in concept, but deep in meaning. They can inspire hope, fear, joy, sadness, any catharsis really. People that leave a mark, they leave part of themselves behind for future generations to have a window into us. The children of my cousins, the 3 pioneers of the next Cox generation, will not know what my grandfather’s brand was used for. They will not know it was on everything that left his workshop. What they will know is the pride, the originality, and the open-mindedness every Cox is raised to have, because, despite their last name looking nothing like C-O-X, they still have Cox blood in their veins. Anyone who sees Dead Denny, they won’t know he was created in a freshman English class, or who left him. They will just know there is a story behind him and they will think of who left him. Me. They will think of me. So what’s your mark? How will you get people to think of you when you are long gone? Just some food for thought.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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