Cast Your Own Legacy.
I almost died this morning. Walking out my front door to hike up the street and catch the bus I stepped on a patch of black ice and fell inches from a garbage truck. It might have been going 5 miles an hour but in my panic to stand up it felt like it was a train barreling towards me at full speed.
It’s my fault really, I was too busy cursing out my wife for making me toast with peach jam and wasn’t paying attention when I fell. Peach is such a bullshit jam. I was actually pissed to know we had it in our house. I might have seen it before and assumed it was marmalade, but now knowing it was peach really made me second-guess all the food in my fridge.
So I fell and the toast got all mushed up and I got snow down my pants and I almost died. The garbage truck stopped a full house away from me, but still…. almost died. It made me think about my legacy, if this were it, how would I be remembered?
(A quick aside, if I did get run over my wife would have spent 20 minutes putting on the right kind of outfit and boots so she wouldn’t be cold before running to my aid. Just saying.)
Anyway, I’d be dead or dying and I’d wonder what I’d done that was meaningful. Sure I have beautiful children, but both of them pick their noses and smear snots on the back of car seats so I clearly failed at parenting. I have a super hot wife and she’d likely - after a long week of mourning - find a new man who looked more like Lenny Kravitz and they’d do hot yoga classes together. I’ve worked with a ton of indie rock and punk bands and helped them get written up in a handful of publications that don’t exist anymore (RIP Rockpile). Hopefully I have had a positive impact on the hundreds of young music students I’ve worked with. Finally, I was once featured on a reality TV home improvement show where for some unexplained reason I said, “Let’s do this thing” at least 5 times during our episode, but none of that matters because at the end of the day I’d be dead and gone.
Maybe it’s best to see yourself as a life-changing saint, as a constant source of genius and inspiration, as a barometer for good. Your children would write at length about how your infinite wisdom shaped them; your wife would pine endlessly for your love; your high school might name a wing after you. People would march in the streets, erect monuments in your honor. Maybe peach jam gets banned outright. Again, it doesn’t matter. because you will never know. So why not decide your legacy and then live up to it, own it? Who did you aspire to be? How did you stand up for others? What did you do that was righteous or difficult? How did you challenge yourself? Did you love others unconditionally? Did you do your best not to judge?
What matters most at the end of it all is your intention. I imagine I’d be laying in the snow, while my wife fusses with a tube of Chapstick. Oblivious, I’m covered in smears of jam and garbage muttering softly to my snot nosed children, “let’s do this thing.”