Tiger Woods has one.
Kermit the Frog has one.
Hell, even The Clapper (remember: clap on, clap off — The Clapper!) has one.
What is it — this one thing? What do they all have in common?
Well, what each of these fame-trapped entities have in common is that they each have their own Wikipedia page.
Think about it. Somewhere, somehow, some sort of Wikipedia-like page exists with your name at the end of the URL — even if only you or God can read it.
But humor me. Forget the mechanics of whether one could exist on you or who’d write it. Just assume one does exist. On you. Warts and all.
What it would say about you? And, more importantly, how would what-it-says inform your life?
Remember: Wikipedia doesn’t record whether you purchased the GI Joe with the Kung Fu grip over the Earring Magic Ken doll. No, that’s too mundane of an activity to be emblazoned on its digital real estate.
Rather, Wikipedia wants the juicy stuff. In fact, the more gossipy, National Enquirer-ey, the better. What’s on it are the events of significance. The big events that you made — and that made you — happen. Wikipedia then postulates-and-transcribes in jarring detail its victims’ stunning successes — and their crushing defeats.
Notice how I intentionally used the word “victims.” You see, unless your last name is Kardashian and you want publicity for the sake of publicity, you have no choice that a page exists or what it says about you. Bill Gates-And-His-Money can’t just “recall” his page. Even if he wanted to change it to project a more favorable narrative of his life, someone’ll just change it back.
Oh, and with Wikipedia, there are no do-overs. Remember, in this scenario, it’s not GroundHogsDay.com, starring Bill Murray. It’s Wikipedia.com, starring you.
It’s kind of as if a pesky reporter always followed you, saw everything you did and then published all the stuff that sticks. Your marriage and your infidelities. Your brilliant career moves, and that time you got fired. Your kids and their indiscretions. Your awards and your brush-ups with the law. That time you got drunk and did something stupid when you were 20 — or 50.
In that light, fame sucks. I’d take money over fame any day.
But, what’s also on his page is when he was found asleep at the wheel under the influence of a collective cocktail of marijuana, Vicodin, Dilaudid, Xanax and Ambien — pharmaceuticals so powerful that, together, they’d bring an actual 485-pound tiger to his furry knees. Kinda not so cool, huh?
Great highs. Great lows. All published.
But back to you. Would you be proud of your page? Would you even want a page? I dunno. Even the Wikipedia Foundation itself states that having one isn’t necessarily a good thing, noting: “While having a Wikipedia article may make you a celebrity of some sort, be ready to have your personal life exposed.”
I think that God keeps a Wikipedia page on us. Not as a threat, but rather, as a life-review kind of thing — the contents of which St. Peter will unfurl on yellowed parchment paper betwixt two mahogany scrolls as we knock on the Pearly Gates with apprehensive knuckles, seeking heavenly admission to the hereafter.
But then again, maybe your Wikipedia page — at least the one St. Peter unfurls — does, in fact, have some of your more banal experiences listed in addition to the big ones. You know, some of the daily, doing-the-laundry kind of decisions that expose your character in heretofore-innocuous ways. Maybe it is the time when you helped that handicapped person, and the time you didn’t. Maybe it has the time you talked with the custodian at your kid’s school — acknowledging his existence in a soulful way when others think of him as a mere fire hazard who mops the floors.
Look, you shouldn’t fashion your life so as to manipulatively “architect” how your page reads, but rather, take the fact that your page exists as a beautiful thing — a byproduct of a life well-lived, or a reminder to improve — even if you’re not famous enough on this earth to have one literally published on the site.
Maybe the concept of having your own Wikipedia page is best taken as a reminder that, in the Grand Scheme of Things, what you do matters. What you say matters. How you impact others matters. A lot. And, that one day, that page will be read back to you.
Maybe the thought of your own Wikipedia page could motivate you in certain ways:
- Is there a broken relationship that needs your attention? Attend to it and break the cycle, because life is, both at once, too short and too long to be mired in the soul-crushing slog of negativity.
- Is there room for more love or a braver soul in your being — someone who’s more accepting, more forgiving and less willing to see yourself or others being bullied? Act on that realization.
- Regretting the past and worrying about the future are both fool’s errands. Live for today — passionately, irreverently and without apology.
Don’t worry about what’ll ultimately be etched onto your life’s Wikipedia page or whether yours is better than Tiger Woods’ (or Kermit’s) — that’ll all take care of itself.
Focus instead on what’s good. What’s good in you — the kind of good you feel when you’re at your best. How you — starting now and regardless of circumstance — can be the change you want to see in the world.
Proud of that page? I would be.
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