ugh, i feel like time’s running out.
how can i make something built to last
in a world that is moving so furiously fast?
what can i do that is intensely new?
that’s remembered by those yet to be born,
that cannot be scrapped or crumpled or torn?
the answer, i think, lies in the heart.
i need to be kind and make an impression,
free from hate and all that aggression
that hurts our society,
sweeping us up in a wave of pain
that cripples our hearts and never will wane.
better to build something bold and new,
cherished until death by just a few.
fame and glory will fade when i’m gone
but love and charity and caring compassion
will never ever fall out of fashion.
the seeds i sow will take their root,
so i’ll make them flowers i’d like to see
in a world that’s still here long after me.
I’ve been thinking about legacy a lot recently. I know it’s morbid but every time I have an ache or pain, the first thing that runs through my mind is that it’s something serious and I mustn’t have long left on this planet.
Of course, none of us know exactly when the end is coming so we do really need to think about the legacy that we are leaving behind for our children and their children.
As I’ve watched the news recently, it has become more and more evident that nothing is set in stone anymore. The money that we make and accumulate and the property that we hope to pass on can be taken from us in an instant. It’s terrifying, but it’s in these moments of fear that we really get some clarity on what’s important.
I think that there are a couple of things that we can leave behind that are much better than property and money. The first is the things that we create, artistically. Paintings and pieces of writing and sculptures and films and crochet blankets. Everything that is an artistic expression is like a piece of our heart that we have poured out into the world. These are things that are personal and even if they are worth nothing to the world at large, they are irreplaceable for the ‘few’ that I mention in this poem. Think of a painting done by a three year old at nursery. His parents will put it on their fridge and love it forever when it has no value to anyone else. Sure, the paper may disintegrate into nothing but the love that it represented will never be wiped out.
The other thing you can leave is something that will grow and help others over time. Even helping once or twice at a shelter or food bank is helping that thing to grow and just think of all the people that it will help over time. Our good actions are like ripples and they just spread without our awareness. All we are responsible for is starting that process.
I hope that you are already working on your legacy. You don’t need to even know what it is, just pumping those good intentions out into the world could be building something that will be great long after you are gone.