“There was never yet an uninteresting life. Such a thing is an impossibility. Inside of the dullest exterior there is a drama, a comedy, and a tragedy.” – Mark Twain
I’m sorry that I didn’t find out what spurred my parents to immigrate to the U.S.
Or what it was like for them growing up in large farming families in Ireland.
Or how they reconnected in New York City, a meeting that eventually led to marriage.
Or what was up with my brother. In sorting through his belongings after he died, I tried to discern a sense of what was going on with him, even accessing his EZ-pass account to look for clues. The toll record revealed that he had driven from New Jersey to Virginia and back on his last known date alive. Why was that?
We are destined to die, but the narrative doesn’t have to. Unless you tell the story, write a poem, or assemble an album with photos and captions, who we were, what was important to us, will get buried. Unless you make an effort, the memories will fade.
Tell me about you. Doesn’t that seem like a more interesting prompt than asking the question: “So, what do you do?” Isn’t life more than how you earn money? There’s no guarantee that a Forbes-featured tech start-up CEO has a richer life than a cashier at Trader Joe’s. There’s more to us than work.
For Christians, the period of Lent is ending. Every year, the story of Jesus’ death is retold – the drama, the tragedy, the surprises. You may never be as famous or have as far-reaching an influence, but you have also had moments of shock and awe. Perhaps, an ordinary commute was upended by an accident or a chance encounter on a blind date led to a cherished partnership. Maybe failing organic chemistry toppled your dream of becoming a doctor, but launched you into a writing career. When a door slammed shut, an opened window brought an opportunity that you might never have considered. Detours that block our planned route can introduce a path we might never have considered.
Don’t let the stories die with you. At some point, each of us will cease to be. If we ignore or deny the reality of death, we won’t have the opportunity to pass on our legacy or write our stories. It doesn’t have to be a book-length memoir, because as journalist Tim Russert observed, “Someday your entire life will be summed up in twenty minutes.” And don’t expect that your social media posts have staying power. Mostly, they’re here today and gone tomorrow, unless you hold a public office.
Your legacy matters. Most people want:
• To be remembered
• To pass down life experiences and beliefs
• To know that your life mattered
A legacy doesn’t happen by chance.
How do you want to be remembered? Some suggestions for crafting your legacy :
• Write a memoir, or just one chapter of your life’s history. Create a table of contents based on stages, turning points, or stepping stones. Give each chapter a descriptive title. What will you call the current chapter?
• Record a soundtrack for your life. Choose lyrics that resonate. If you and your beloved have a special song, include that melody.
• Compose an ethical will so future generations will know what you valued and how you made a difference. Inspire others with your amazing resilience and kindness.
We never know when a last time might be the last. In the ballad “Beautiful Boy,” John Lennon sings about a future with his 5-year-old son. Lennon doesn’t know he won’t survive the year, but the song can still remind us: “Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.” Carpe diem – seize the day and prioritize the present. But also be intentional about your vision for the future.
© Joan S Grey, 2 April 2021 ∞
IndexCardCure™: May your day blossom with blessings.