This may seem like a weird title when the topic is metaphysical. But it’s the question my husband had when his Dad passed. What happens to “us” when we die? We know that there are only a couple of options for our body once it has lost it’s usefulness. But, that’s not what I’m talking about here.
We are preparing for the changing of the guard here in America. There is a lot of talk about President Obama’s “legacy”. What will he be remembered for? What will we be remembered for when we leave this earth? What about our legacy?
If you think about it, we are really only remembered for a few generations. Unless you come from a lineage that has a famous, or infamous person, the memory of you only goes so far. What can you tell me about your great-grandmother, or your great-great-grandfather? Maybe you have some scraps of information. But, I’ll be willing to bet that you couldn’t write a biography.
So, all the jokes we tell, the meals we share with family and friends, the knowledge we gain, the lessons we learn, our longing, our passion, our joy. Where does that stuff go?
If you’re from a religious background, you’ll probably explain that it goes to heaven. You might say that it gets recycled, and we’re reborn into another body. You may think that we become ghosts, or spirits that roam the earth. I’m not into zombies, but maybe you are. Do we just cease to be, once people don’t remember us? Are we dispersed throughout the universe, Carl Sagan style?
That thought just makes life seem silly, the way most of us live. Reaching for more of everything. More love, more money, more happiness, more fame. Whatever your “more” is, you’re probably pretty serious about it.
We worry about being late for the dentist. We worry about paying our bills. We worry about our health. We worry about our job. A hundred years from now, what will be the result of all that worrying? It’s a pretty safe bet that it will not feature in the future landscape of life.
One minute we’re doing our makeup, cleaning our car, getting groceries… the next, dead. There are quite a few sites, blogs, articles, etc. on living a “mindful life”. I envy people who feel especially “mindful”, or that cultivate “mindfulness” in their lives. I think that most of us don’t have things dialed in to that extent. I know I don’t.
As you age, life becomes less and less like Summer vacations were when you were in elementary school. Remember the long expanse of Summer? You become more and more aware of the passing of time, and the value of it. Probably because there is less of it in front of you, and more of it behind you.
I know that as a Grandmother, I tend to think “I haven’t seen Oscar in a month… a lot will have changed.” Seeing my grandkids grow makes me more and more aware of how things tend to happen fast in life. Ten years ago, I didn’t have any grandchildren. Five years ago, I had two. Today, I have six, and my seventh on the way! Things move at the “speed of life”!
I guess that the object of the exercise is to reach the finish line with as few regrets as possible. It’s so tricky, though, when you don’t know where the finish line is.
“We are like butterflies that flutter for a day and think it is forever.” – Carl Sagan