In the end, all of those who were to leave the rest behind were supposed to stand in the front of the room, in front of everyone who has known us since the start, and answer one simple question: How do you want to be remembered when you die?
Over the years, you hear different answers, but they all feel the same.
I want to be remembered as kind. I want to be remembered as smart. I want to do something great and leave a legacy of that greatness behind. I want to be remembered as a good parent. I want to be remembered as strong. I want to be remembered as successful. I want to be remembered.
Each person had their own nuance, they all had some story to tell about who they hoped to be until their last breath. All different, feeling the same.
For years I thought about what I would say when I got up there. How did I want to be remembered? What did I want to do until that final moment that would make me worth remembering? How great, how successful, how fulfilled did I want to be?
I don’t remember the moment I decided that I would say what I said, but I think I remember it being last minute. I think I remember wanting to be different, but I wanted to be honest. So I walked up in front of all these people who thought they knew me and spoke:
“I don’t care if I’m remembered when I die. The world is an ocean and I can only be a drop. I hope my ripples reach people and touch people and make them feel good. As long as I affected people in a positive way, I think that’s enough. They don’t have to remember the good and attach my name to it. I just hope the good is there, spreading.”
Or something along those lines. I remember being told that I hadn’t done the exercise correctly. That I had missed the point. But when I remember that moment, having thought for years about how I would answer the question, I think I got it right.
In the end, it’s all stardust. When you die, people will keep on living. No matter how big your name becomes, no matter how remembered you are for however long, you’ll always be forgotten. Eventually, the universe won’t remember your name, your face, or your blueprint. But in the meantime, you could spend your life rippling love and goodness through the vast ocean of humanity. Ripple after ripple would cause wave after wave and every drop touched by those ripples and waves would only keep the whole thing going.
Nothing lasts, everything ends, but in the meantime we could float in the ripples and the waves and make it feel like a nicer place for the next one and the next one until there is no one left.
When you die, what do you care for the thoughts of the living? But as you live, I suppose you should care about the feeling of the water on your skin.