Spoiler Alert: This post has ended up talking a lot about death, (sorry), but hopefully you won’t feel morbid after reading it.
When John D Rockefeller died in 1937, the story goes at the funeral a bystander asked his accountant how much he left behind in his will. And the accountant answered: “He left it all. He didn’t take a thing with him”
We are on this planet for but a short time, and while we are here we make choices as to what we do, where we live, who we live with and where our money goes. And sometimes we plan this in advance…I have friends who have their five year plans, their goals for the year…I even have a friend who achieved their three year plan in six months! And then there are those of us who sort of drift along, happily seeing where life takes them, and just enjoying the ride.
Now I don’t want to be an advocate for either approach, as I think a balance of both is a good thing, and everyone is different. But we can’t escape the two much quoted things, death and taxes. (Although plenty seem to be trying very hard to avoid taxes these days)…I digress.
What is your legacy going to be? After you’ve lived your three score years and ten, what will you be remembered for? Were you a good friend? An entrepreneur? A philanthropist? Movie star? Bad neighbour? Absent sibling? Did you leave a large bank account, or debts? Were you missed by many friends and family, or was your funeral a quiet affair…possibly even a celebration for all the wrong reasons? Maybe you’ll live your life, and that will be it, and in two generations time “insert your name here” will be forgotten.
At the moment I have at least three legacies in the form of my children, and maybe grandchildren one day. While the work I have done will not necessarily be remembered when I’m gone, I am sure the training, input and time I’ve put into rehearsals, writing and Sundays will have made a difference to some, which in turn may have helped change the course of their lives, and those around them. And while I may not write like Shakespeare, or Bronte, or J.K.Rowling, there is always a possibility some of my work will exist and be used in years to come.
I´ll probably never hold a brush that paints a masterpiece
Probably never find a pen that writes a symphony
But if I will love then I will find
That I have touched another life
And that´s something
Something worth leaving behind
As The Beatles famously sang, All You Need is Love. Love makes the world go around. Love lifts us up where we belong. And while love won’t pay the bills, make breakfast and get the washing done, it makes the biggest difference in life. Work, relationships, creativity: adding a big dose of love to any of these things will make the world of difference.
We used this song by Lee Ann Womack some time ago when we were looking at caring; a series entitled The Incredible Power of Compasssion. When you love someone, when you show love however big or small, it makes a difference in peoples lives. And while it may not always look as discernible as painting or writing a masterpiece, while it may not be exhibited in a museum or played on the radio for years to come, while it probably won’t ever earn a Wikipedia entry, touching someone else’s life is definitely something worth leaving behind.