There was a question I liked to consider that guided my life for a long time.
“What would you want people say about you at your funeral?”
Oh… nothing like thinking about our imminent death to really stir things up and scare us into doing what's right in the world.
I still think this is a great question to ask when we’re a bit lost in our life.
But I take it more with a grain of salt now.
Because it made me focus too much on the legacy that I was going to leave. For all of eternity. Like, forever. Like, forever and ever and ever and ever and nobody will ever forget any of it.
But the thing is, more likely than not, people will forget. Sure. The Internet, but even that, I think, people will forget, eventually. Maybe not in 100 years. Maybe not in a thousand. But eventually, people will forget.
This isn’t to say what I do is not important. But this is to say that maybe the legacy we leave isn’t AS important as we think.
Let me put this in perspective.
Dinosaurs. They existed for how many millions of years? And then they were wiped out due to a comet or something like that.
The Mayans. They were ridiculously smart, thrived, and created engineering feats that still make people scratch their heads. But now we diminish their entire existence into one word. The Mayans. And, maybe the Stonehenge, but that’s about it.
Steve Jobs once said, “Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn't matter to me. Going to bed at night saying we've done something wonderful... that's what matters to me.”
Ok, slightly off topic, but for some reason, it sorta made sense in my head to throw that quote in with the mix.
And with worrying about my legacy came thinking about these ridiculous things like, well, what happens when I die? Will squarespace still be around? What if squarespace goes bankrupt? What if they disappear like how xanga disappeared? What if my grandchildren forget to update my credit card information and I lose my domain??
I mean, honestly though, can I really control any of that?
The answer is… sort of.
But given enough time. Probably, a hard no.
So, this isn’t to say I don’t worry about my legacy. I think the best thing humankind can do is to pass on knowledge. This is, after all, the one thing I always wanted. Thought a book of knowledge would be cool, but doesn’t exist, therefore, this blog. But I just don’t think about it in terms of eternity anymore. I think about it in terms of, I don’t know, maybe 2 generations from now. If what I share can benefit my children and my children’s children. Great. I’ve done my job.
Worrying about my legacy till the end of time paralyzed me for more years than it helped. So maybe this will help you too.
But seriously though, how do I make sure none of this disappears into the ether? I spent way too many sleepless nights writing all this stuff for it all to just disappear! Should I make a statue of myself somewhere? Carve my face into the side of mountain like Mt. Rushmore? Who do you even call to do that? Will Planet Earth even be around for that much longer? Will internet still be around? No, seriously though.
by Jason Lam