Thursday, June 13, 2013
No legacy is so rich as honesty. (All’s Well that Ends Well -- Act iii, Sc. 5) William Shakespeare
Have you ever thought about life after your own? I’m not talking about anything supernatural, heaven, or the afterlife. I’m talking about the impression you leave behind after you are gone. It’s an unavoidable truth that one day each of us will draw our last breath and part from this world. In a way it makes all that we do and all that we say that much more poignant and precious, because we only get one chance. Think for a moment of what life would be like without you. All of society will roll on just as it has before you, only now, if you’ve done it right, you’ll have left a mark that is immutable and distinctly you. I think leaving a legacy of good behind is vital.
For argument’s sake let’s say we all have 100 years of earthly life given to us. What will you do with that time? Each life is different and unique and the choices we make mold and shape that life and us into the individuals we all are. Some of those choices are good, some bad. What we do with those lives is entirely up to us. There are those who are self-centered and egotistical, searching only for things that make themselves happy. There are those who strive for altruism and look out for others, doing whatever they can to better the lives of those around them. Many of us fall somewhere in between, which is to say we try to live good lives and occasionally put ourselves first in the pecking order of life. Now that’s not a bad thing because if you can’t take care of yourself you can’t take care of anyone else; it’s the balance between selfishness and givingness that’s the key. We can’t all get everything we’ve ever wanted, that’s just unrealistic and if you devote your life to acquisition, whether it be for fame, fortune or power, you may very well achieve those goals, but when it’s all over, what do you leave behind?
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say what you leave behind should be a positive thing. Although, it might be hard to say exactly what counts as valuable in a subjective sense; one person might say a fortune left to heirs is positive, another might say the example of a good life is better. Even others might say the propagation of their religion or ideology is paramount. So what is positive, and what counts as a lasting legacy of good?
My belief is that if you continue to learn and improve on the person you were yesterday, avoid making the same mistakes, keep an open mind, learn from other people the best you can, and never give up to apathy and despair, your life will continue to improve. Striving to an ideal is great so long as you only compare yourself to what you have achieved, not what you think you should be. We all know no one is perfect, but continual self-improvement is an example everyone that knows you can take with them and emulate, as well as pass on to others.
Over the course of a lifetime, you can make a difference. If you continually fail, try another approach, seek advice, model yourself after those who have succeeded and keep going. If you only have 100 years to make a life worth knowing about, each moment is precious, but they are also opportunities to reassert yourself and move forward. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it. Think of it this way, if your life was a book, would anyone want to read about it? I for one want to leave behind a best seller. What about you?
Thanks for reading. Questions and Comments are welcome.
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