Friday, August 12, 2016

Microstory 385: Legacy

Click here for a list of every step.

In the previous installment, I went over accomplishments. These are results that you can see and keep track of while they’re happening, and immediately afterwards. What I tried to explain was that they might be subtle and hard for you to believe in, but they are definitely there. We have all accomplished something. Legacy, on the other hand, is much hard to attain. This has traditionally been used to refer to what people remember of you when you’re gone. I hear a lot of characters in movies tell a depressed person that they matter, and that they’ll live on forever as long as someone remembers them. This is usually followed by a personal claim that the one in question is important to the speaker personally. Writers write these speeches thinking that they’re being clever and original, when in fact, I call it a cliché. It’s not about whether any given individual remembers you, but whether you had an impact on the world. Now of course I’m not just talking about heads of state and popular musicians. Your legacy may be rather small, but the idea is that the choices you made ripple through time beyond any human’s ability to calculate the ramifications. A few family members with a few anecdotes will eventually die off too, and we’ll end up with diminishing returns, rendering the memories themselves meaningless. It’s what you do, and what effect you have on society, that really counts. These impacts can range from saving a culture from genocide to letting a stranger merge into the lane in front of you. With death in the equation, all memories fade away. A few people are lucky enough to have their stories written down, but for the rest of us, our social outreach will be the only thing that keeps us alive. I don’t ever plan on dying, as I’ve said, but the process is the same either way. The easiest way to create a legacy is to take it literally and raise a child of your own, but there are other ways. Being out there and effecting change in your community; letting your voice be heard, especially by the next generation, is going to give you that edge. You don’t matter just by being alive and knowing people. You have to make an effort.


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