The Only 3 Ways to Leave A Legacy
“What is your greatest ambition in life?” “To become immortal, and then die.”
— Jean-Luc Godard, Breathless (1960)
I always forget to remember my dreams. I mean — I’m sure I have them, but my mind blanks by the time I wake up.
On the rare occasion a thought-bubble slips through the sleep-wake barrier, it’s almost always about the same thing: I’m dead.
I die in just about 100% of my dreams. In fact, I’m not sure what else people dream about. Even in daytime thought, my demise weighs on me — how to delay it, how to defeat it, how to defy it.
How could it not? Death is the only promise that’s also a guarantee. I know I’ll meet my end and you’ll meet yours. We’re here, then we’re gone — every human, animal, plant, organism, cell — up and vanished like the waves that dared to crash upon the shoreline.
Still, there’s hope.
While it’s impossible to actually live forever, we can learn, make, experience, and share enough of ourselves to achieve the illusion of immortality. We can approach the asymptotic, even though we’ll never touch it.
Our mortality might be a prison, but that’s not the complete picture. It’s just half of the brokenhearted locket.
The outside world bestows the other half to you — family, friends, community, society. That half starts as infinite shattered shards, and can only be reassembled and rejoined with you by how you contribute to those who hold the pieces. Your mission is that half. Your legacy is that half.
Now, let’s talk about how you can leave a legacy, or — more appropriately — piece it together.
David Brooks is someone I hate-read. His highfalutin posturing wrapped in gentile prodding grates on my sensibilities — the writing equivalent of someone brushing my teeth with an edge-trimmer.
That said, he once wrote one whole thing I find profound and worth sharing. It’s worth reading in full.