Meditations of Death
A number of years ago, I was visiting the bustling city of Hong Kong (HK). HK is one of the wealthiest cities in the world, and it is not uncommon to see at least four or five super cars when going out for a stroll. During my visit, I was in a tour bus with a few of my classmates and we saw a massive graveyard while driving along the winding highways. For those of you that don't know, HK is an incredibly densely packed city. Many of the apartments and department stores are specially built to be on steep mountain sides. This graveyard was packed with gravestones. You could barely move from one gravestone to the next without stepping over another person's final resting place. I inquired to my friend who lived in HK what they did when they ran out of space to fill up the graves. He told me in a matter a fact tone that every few decades or so they clear out some of the gravestone terraces and make room for another fresh batch of cadavers. This gave me a shiver. I found it highly disrespectful that someone's gravestone was going to be disregarded, torn out and forgotten. Just then I noticed a shining red Ferrari next to a gravestone. My friend then commented to me that often times people pay a lot of money to have their family members gravestone spot reserved rather than torn out for a much longer period of time.
I had not made the connection at that time as to why I had found this whole experience so shocking and absurd to me until I started cleaning out my attic and I came across some old possessions of my late grandfather. As I went through the box, I filtered through old military accolades, university degrees, photographs and letters. It really hit me to think that what was left of this man's life was just a dusty old box of things that eventually won't matter that much to anyone. When my father passes, and his brothers and sisters do as well, there will be few, if any memories left of my grandfather. For a brief moment, life seemed to be so pointless to me. It seemed like all of the memories, struggles, joys, glorious achievements and bitter failures of humanity didn't seem to matter if all the legacy you left was a dusty old box of belongings, or worse, a grave only to be ripped up after a decade or so.
That was when the word "legacy" rang out loud and clear in my head. The only thing that really lasts after you are gone is the LEGACY YOU HAVE LEFT. I immediately had a paradigm shift from my nihilistic thinking to one of great joy. It catapulted me into being grateful for the simplest of things in life. It helped me savor every moment. It helped me stay in the present. I asked myself "Don, what legacy are you leaving? What actions are you doing now that will affect people long after you are gone?" I realized that there was great power in myself. I realized that there was great power in all humans to create this legacy.
In your life, it is important to remember this great power that resides within you. You are a powerful being that has the potential to change the world. Do not let the slog of life make you forget this.
Do you want people to remember you for being a "nice person that was a hard worker" or do you want your legacy to be "He/she radically transformed my life and the lives of millions of others"? The choice is yours. Its all about the depth of your vision and the actions you take to actualize that vision.