“There is no remembrance of men of old, and even those who are yet to come will not be remembered by those who follow.”
-Ecclesiastes 1:11 (NIV)
I was walking today and thinking about how rather sad life is. Perhaps I seem morbid with these posts about death and a seemingly preoccupation that I have with it. To be honest, I don’t think that I have an unhealthy obsession with it, but I do wonder what I’m going to do with my life.
Andrew Carnegie once said, “People who are unable to motivate themselves must be content with mediocrity, no matter how impressive their other talents”. To me, mediocrity is chilling. It’s so boring, so forgotten, so unimpressive. I drive past cemeteries and wonder about the people laid to rest there. Where did they work? What did they do? Did they love their job or hate it? Do they have children? Do their children miss them? What legacy do they have? Did they live a mediocre life? Did they live a life that is forgotten?
Perhaps my youth allows me to dream. The dream carries me to a place where I will not be forgotten. A place where my acts here on earth lead to hope and a future for people who did not have a hope and a future. A life that is not mediocre. A life full of purpose and a life full of realized dreams. Did others have this vision? Do I share this vision with someone whose tombstone is now casting a shadow on the parched August grass?
But what separates me from a casket full of bones? What distance is there between my vision and the vision of a man long deceased? A mere six feet and a short lifetime. But what choices are made are made by these men long forgotten that cause them to be forgotten? Why is the author of the verse long remembered but the centuries of men who have read it long forgotten? Certainly it is not wealth, fame, or beauty. Instead, it is the legacy left by a life lived.
A legacy must be intentional. A legacy must have a vision. However, a legacy can be so many different things. It can be an idea. It can be children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, friends, or neighbors. It can be hope. It can be a seed planted, a bridge built, or a wall torn down.
There are few people remembered. Fewer still whose lives are celebrated. Think of people who are remembered. It is interesting. As I wrote that, I could honestly think of no one who could be written there. I tossed around the idea of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and more. But in reality they will be forgotten. But they did leave a legacy. This legacy will carry on after their memory has been forgotten.
Perhaps, the legacy is enough. A life full of a motivated vision will end, marked with a cold piece of beautiful granite. But if someone out there is walking, talking, hoping, dreaming, loving, and changing the world because of the life disappeared from the body, then that life is remembered. It is not remembered not by me or you. But it is remembered in the legacy. The legacy of a life changes the world on person and one breath at a time.
Dan and Jessica are getting married. Dan wanted me to post something about it, so I post in the form of a challenge. Let your marriage lead to a legacy. You’ll be forgotten, but may the way you love each other, the way you raise your children, the way you move to Guatemala leave such a legacy that your marriage can be traced back to from the impact it has on the future. Don’t let the hedonism of this world cloud you.
Instead of “Gone, But Not Forgotten” on my tombstone, just leave a hammer and chisel. Let them sit in the sun and rain for a generation. Let the granite weather and be battered by storms, storms like the ones faced in life. And let the next generation write my epitaph. Let my legacy lead them to the words that forever shall be etched on my grave. If my life was mediocre then my resting place will be forever untended. And let the blank, cold stone with rusting hammer and chisel eternally mark that mediocrity.