I have absolutely never understood why there are people out there that are scared to die without a “legacy.”
For example: I really, truly, credit a certain person with saving my life. There are many people that have in their own ways, but this one especially. Even though I have told her multiple times “You had a conversation with me that, without a doubt, completely saved my life,” she does not see herself as having done much with her life at all. She doesn’t understand that her existence has done absolutely everything for mine, and that was only a fraction of the impact I’m sure she’s made upon this world that I wasn’t around to see. She doesn’t think that saving one person’s life was enough to make her worthy to walk this earth. To her, it might have been one person, one conversation, but to me it was a conversation that put decades back onto my life, and made years of pain vanish.
Another example of a person who isn’t a bravado-filled, textbook hero, nor widely recognized as a valuable person, happens to be an elderly lady that I don’t even know the name of. Once, when I was in my early teens, my mother was out running errands.
During this time, I was constantly entering the astral world unprotected without realizing it. I was seeing and experiencing terrible things, and nobody (especially me) understood what was happening to me. I was an enigma to my loved ones as well as to my doctors, and my parents were terrified that I would never be able to fully function in a healthy manner. My mother was especially affected by my behavior, and struggled with what was happening to me nearly as much as I did.
At the post office, an old woman in a wheelchair made eye contact and stared at my mother while she was in line to mail a package and said “It takes time.” My mother, to this day, swears that this lady saw right through her, into her soul, and that she was given a message.
The old woman’s daughter was embarrassed. And said “Mom!”, but my own mother, startled, started crying as the old woman was wheeled away.
Do you think that old woman cares about how many times her legal name is mentioned as a footnote in history textbooks? Do you think she cares if schoolchildren study her life for a history exam, to fill in some empty bubble? That woman had the power to say a sentence to my mother and have my mother remember it six years later. She’ll probably even remember it for the rest of her life. It touched my mother more than anything she was told was important in grade school by some teacher on tenure.
Another important phenomena occured, during the time period in which I was experiencing highly traumatic and otherworldly sensations.
It was that my mother had a friend that would call her frequently on the telephone.
She would call my mother on the phone every single day, as my mother lay around, hopeless, her life thrown into a sort-of horror movie. My mother’s friend would tell my mother a funny story each day, for at least a year and a half straight, and that would be enough to give my mother the courage to get out of bed and face me every morning. When my aunt got cancer, my mother employed this tactic that she had learned from her friend. My mother called my aunt every day with a funny story, which helped give my aunt more courage to face her cancer.
You don’t have to see everyone’s lives as being intertwined by design. If you don’t, then you must admit that we twist and turn and fall together, over each other, under each other, mirror each other, and learn from each other. And that dance is more beautiful and important than any sort of two sentences in a history textbook that one earns with a traditional sort of “legacy.” Aside from your your goals and aspirations, your friends are your legacy. Your children are your legacy, your community is your legacy. Everyone you pass on the street is your legacy, and to devalue that is to insult them.