I never really thought about death as a child. All I knew is that I wanted to make a positive impact on the world. I used to articulate it this way, when I was only 9;
‘I’m either gonna be famous, or have kids. Either way, I am leaving my mark on the world.’
I can’t decide if this is silly or not.
Today I did the Coogee to Bondi coastal walk. Amid the trek, the path winds between the graves of those buried at Waverly Cemetery. I didn’t know at the time, but the tombs of writers, Henry Lawson and Dorothy Mackellar, were among the burial ground. I was mostly fixated on the grandeur of the memorials and headstones. Every so often, my friend and I would stop to read about who had died. One boy had died at 9 and so, it seemed, had his sister, both perhaps before their parents. One family had a vault for all their bodies, something arranged and decided upon long ago. It probably cost a lot of money. Between the angel statues and marble carvings, I honestly wondered for a fleeting moment, whether the ostentatiousness of the memorials gave the lives more significance. I, after all, was stopping to acknowledge the death of strangers. Is there immortality in that?
My friend reminded me that the large tributes are for the living, not the dead. That it gives us a sense of a life being truly recognised- to make grieving families feel better, but it does nothing for the deceased. Again, the fleeting, but painfully narcissistic question made itself known. Could we (read ‘I’) literally just buy a huge memorial that forces people to take a moment to remember a life? Does it give a person greater importance? Is it making a mark?
I’ve been having an existential crisis for about a year now. I think about life and death all the time, but not always in productive ways. As always, my circular thoughts pause at the idea that ‘The meaning of life is to give life meaning’. But, as someone uncertain about the afterlife, (although hoping that someday I literally have a burst of positive juju that clings to the nearest living human when I am gone) I have come to attach all my worth on the significance I have. This is why I strive to make a positive impact. Plus, it feels good to create good, and it basically seems like who I am.
So back to the cemetery. I worked out pretty quickly that human life is not valued by the size of a headstone. All human life is beautiful, valuable and a gift in one way or another. Even when people do not ‘do good’, life is still precious.
Again, absent of any strong convictions about the afterlife, I resolve to ‘give life meaning’ (there’s that thought again!) in three clear ways. I don’t know if I will do all of these, but I know that even trying will spread a tiny bit of love that will get passed on and on so that the little threads of love stretch across the world. And that is enough.
1. I want to help people enjoy their life, their gifts and their uniqueness by teaching them how to talk to themselves. When people feel fulfilled, they are kinder. I truly believe that. And with more love and kindness, the world can heal.
2. I would like to have a kid or two someday. Another avenue to pass down pure love plus all the other reasons people normally want children.
3. I would like to write a song that really connects with people that can give them strength or hope in their lifetime. Something good enough to be covered by lots of people. There, I said it.
And honestly, I feel like I have already had an amazing experience of life. To some degree I am doing what feels like my purpose which is to soulfully empower and heal others. And I am always looking to have even more of a positive impact until I am at complete peace with the crazy, amazing thing called life.
I would, right now, more than anything, love for you to share the legacy you would like to leave. What will your name represent? What will you set in motion that could stand the test of time? What would you leave behind if you were to leave now? This may feel uncomfortable, but it will sure help you fast track to what you are meant to be doing!
Please share with me your insights in the comments or get in touch if you need extra support through this process.
You are pure love.