What do you want to be remembered by? Come on; I know you want people to remember you by something wonderful that you did or do. It’s your living legacy. People that create art may have a bit of an edge here, because their work, rather it be good or bad, can survive for centuries after their long gone. But that’s not to say creative people have a built in longevity when it comes to a legacy. We all have someone that we love because of something they currently do, or did, that brings joy to others and it can be as simple as they make the very best apple pie in the whole wide world. “I remember my grandmother Jones, she had many wonderful attributes, but I probably remember her most because she made mouthwatering pies, the kind all grandmother’s place on the window sill to cool down. They were simply scrumptious! And you could tell they were made with love and a huge amount deserving of pride.”
We can all be remembered by a lot of things, and some good and probably some not so good. But give some thought as to how you live your life, maybe it’s time to address the fact that you want to have some kind of legacy. Sure you can play a great game of golf or maybe you’re really good at working social media; but is that— as the song goes, “Is That All There Is?” Not everyone does something outstanding in their lives that is truly newsworthy. But nearly everyone does something that is good and honest, and is a true benefit to those that know them. Stuff that we do that garners admiration from others, but perhaps most importantly gives us a sense of pride and accomplishment.
Age doesn’t really matter here, at different periods in our lives we have achievements and accomplishments, and some of which we have every right to be very proud of. If you are an 11 year old and won first place in a spelling bee, if there is such a thing anymore. Then as an 11-year-old, that may be your legacy to date, you are a darn good speller. Let’s move on a few dozen years and maybe you are fortunate enough to have done a Ted talk, that millions of people listen to, and benefited from. Bravo for you, I’d like to listen to it. Maybe you spent a good chunk of your life painting, and maybe you have rooms in your house, an attic or basement that’s filled to the brim with paintings you have made over the years. And yes, you have sold some of them. But, I can assure you there are very few artists that aren’t sitting on a whole lot of paintings that at some point are gonna end up in the homes of their children or grandchildren for them to figure out how to dispose of them. Just to let you know; even Picasso had warehouses filled with unsold paintings, and yes, it was a bit of a strategy on his part. But if an artist is to ever be accomplished they need to make a lot of art and a good part of it may never be sold
There are so many things people can remember you by, “He’s incredibly smart or handsome,” “She’s intelligent and absolutely beautiful.” What about a wonderful sense of humor. I know a writer that lives in Georgia, not only is he a very talented writer, but what I think I like about him most, is his great sense of humor, you might call it a rapier wit. We should all be so lucky when it comes to bringing joy to people by giving them something funny that causes them to feel happy inside, and puts a smile on their face.
We all know what Steve Jobs, Warren Buffett, and William Shakespeare will be known for. This is one of those LIST’S that can go on forever including Franz Liszt. (Pun intended.)
Yes, there is no shortage of legacies, both good and bad… but perhaps the shiniest ones of all, are your own personal legacies, like how well you raised your children, or how much you volunteered helping others, or how you shared your blessings with those less fortunate than you. Trust me, those are legacies you want to be remembered by.
As I mentioned earlier creative people may have an edge in the,”What do you want to be remembered by” department. But you don’t have to be artistic when it comes to creativity, maybe you have a lovely little bookstore that people like to hang out in, and chat about the doings of the day. Or you have a taco truck, I can’t think of anything more creatively challenging than operating a food truck and keeping your customers happy, remembering your delicious food, and telling their friends what a great meal they had. That is one of those legacies that puts money in the bank daily.
When you set your head down on your pillow tonight give this some thought. What do you want to be remembered by? And remember this is not meant to be a stress test that will keep you awake all night long, don’t make it too cerebral. Just give it some gentle thinking. I can assure you, as time goes on you may reevaluate what it really means to have a living legacy. As you mature it can change, and most likely will. The first step is to try to see yourself as others see you. It’s easy to get impressions of people, even people we don’t really know. I can see a work of art that someone posted on Instagram. In my imagination I can try to envision what this art maker is like as a human being. We so often look, but never bother to read that person’s bio or for that matter even go to their website. You see a gazillion images pass in front of you, and no doubt you’re missing out on some incredible legacies in the making. The old adage about judging a book by its cover has a place here. You may want to make sure the cover of your life, leads people to understand you, and helps them embrace the noble life you’re now leading, and that you want them to remember you by.
Every day that we live our lives, we are actually creating a legacy. This is what people will most likely remember you by; hopefully they will look for the good and not be so catty, that they only relish gossiping about the not so good deeds you did or are currently doing. We all have choices, and more often than not we look for shortcuts, but when it comes to your legacy build on solid ground. You have a gift, it’s called your life… and you can pretty much do what you want with it. But rather whether you know it or not, you are building a legacy and it just makes good sense to think about, “What you want to be remembered by?”