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What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal. — Albert Pike
Since the dawn of time, one of the most taboo subjects of conversation has always been that of death. For as long as man has been intelligent its scholars have flirted with the idea of death.
What happens when we die?
Is it heaven, hell, or simply nothing?
What happens to our conscience and/or soul?
These are just some of the questions that have been asked by individuals of all religious faiths and nationalities. Great men like Carl Sagan, Alan Watt, Socrates, and Leonardo Da Vinci, have danced with the subject over multiple intellectual experiments throughout the course of history. Theories have been developed, books have been written, and songs have been sung describing what could be expected upon that inevitable moment. Yet no person who has experienced the event of death could ever go on to inform the rest of us about what transpired. It is, quite honestly, the ultimate catch 22 of life. It is the ultimate unknown that any voyager can explore, the severed tie to the material world.
The question I ask is what should it mean to us today? We are blessed to be born in a time that provides us with the deepest understandings of life ever allowed. Ultimately this would have gone hand in hand with the understanding of death. The volume of literature at the disposal of the common curious Joe is nearly infinite. By this, I mean that one lifetime simply is not enough to absorb all of the information that is accessible today. Therefore, given the proper commitment and appetite for knowledge, one can develop quite the enlightened understanding of what it means to die. Generally, it would mean the end of one’s life; the final point of our finite life span. Given its inevitability, one can gain a fatalistic view towards life. What is the point of taking anything seriously when everyone you know is going to die, including you?
In my opinion, death should be the day that everyone alive spends their entire life preparing for. I mean if all the religions in the world are wrong and this is your brief moment of complex hydrogen atoms allowing the universe to experience its self than the primary focus should be what you leave behind for those who follow you. What kingdom did you leave for your descendants? Is your legacy something that your great grandkids would present to their classroom for show and tell? These questions or not limited to the reach of your family either; they extend towards humanity in its entirety. What beauty did you add to the world? What significant philosophy? What substantial proposition? Think about it, humanity as a species continuously takes advantage of the exploits of the dead. Inventions, Ideas, technologies, hell… even buried treasure; all of them carrying out much longer lives than their creators. The inventions of audio and video recording have granted an advantage to mankind; one only accessible to those who have lived within the last hundred years. Great minds such as John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King speak to us from the grave with important messages for all humanity. This only further supports the notion that we should be grateful for our position in the timeline that is the existence of mankind. Now more than ever, our legacies can stand to be immortal.
The main point I am attempting to make is that now more than ever, our lives can have a significant impact on our species. The children of my generation feel this undeniable incentive to accomplish grand historical achievements before we expire. Personally, I feel a similar expectation… The need to do something extraordinary before my ticket gets punched. I have thought about this deeply; how the meaning of life goes largely hand in hand with the meaning of death. Legacy does not exist within the physical body of its representative; it exists within the life work of the representative. And it proceeds to thrive long after the death of the individual that created it. Steve Jobs is no longer with us, yet his legacy resides in almost every home in America. Vince Lombardi has been dead for nearly half a century but we still celebrate his legacy nationwide every single year.
In short, the manner in which you choose to spend the time that you have been granted may prove more crucial than you think. We have the option to be immortal in the most powerful sense. In a way that can potentially assist men and woman with a certain given subject, whatever it may be, even long after you die. Take a moment to consider the idea… Do you feel that sensation deep down in your core? If you do than I have faith for you, there is a chance that you just might one day be prepared to die. Prepared because you know that even after your dead and gone, your legacy will remain. Although, if you don’t, I respectfully apologize. I sincerely sympathize for people who are willing to live their entire lives without contributing something of value to society. The reason for this is because they will never truly feel fulfilled when facing their final hour. A majority of the time, in fact, people don’t begin to question themselves on their satisfaction with their overall accomplishments until it’s too late. On the other end of the spectrum, those individuals who have accomplished remarkable feats can rest easy in the face of death. Their acceptance of the occasion goes hand in hand with the content in their accomplishments. A man who was once world champion has a far easier time dying than a man who was nothing. They may still be afraid of death but they will not have as hard of time embracing it.
Therefore, if you are reading this now, I urge you to pursue what you love and figure out a way to make it your legacy. That way when you’re on your deathbed and you’re reflecting on the journey, you can take pride in the fact that something you created will maintain the flame that was your life. Besides, Newton says that energy can’t be created or destroyed, only transferred, and you have your own energy. That means there may be a chance that we will reincarnate into another person and use our former life’s work to our advantage in the next one. Maybe, just like your guaranteed death as soon as you are born, you are guaranteed life as soon as you die. Maybe your life is intended for selfless contribution and your death selfish rest. Or maybe we just die… One way or another death is something that, in spite of all of our accomplishments, we will all have to accept.