Amidst all the pain that was felt with the loss of Nanna some years ago, I remember pondering at her funeral about the fact that, even in death, she could still be so inspirational. She was inspiration to me. As photographs of her life were revealed, including one of her as a young woman mowing her lawn in the 1950’s, I sat there wanting to live life the way she had lived it.
And that was her legacy. To be inspiring, without even trying; and to teach, without even trying. She would always say to my husband, “Look after her”. Then she would turn to me and say, “Look after him.” This was a beautiful lesson learned, thankfully not too late. But the beauty of the wisdom in her words were to strike a chord quite profoundly years into our marriage.
And that was her legacy.
I have often wondered about the concept of leaving behind a legacy.
When I was a child, I wondered what I would take with me if our house were to be caught up in flames of fire. Just a random thought that a lot of people probably wonder about. I always thought of my journals first and foremost, and also of the many tapes in which I had recorded my original songs.
Growing up, I always wrote in my journals as though a young girl far down the line of my descendant’s lineage had stumbled across my diaries in the dark corners of a dusty attic, flipping through the very old delicate paper and gathering in her head a concept of what it was like for me to live my life. Ultimately, I wanted to teach my descendants about what it was like for somebody their own age to live life, some one hundred years ago. I guess I had always held a fascination with the past and how people lived one hundred years before me, and longed to make such a discovery myself. I think that these were the beginnings of my pondering about leaving a legacy.
None of us want to be forgotten, after all.
As the years have rolled on, I have wondered what it is that I could leave behind for my loved ones. Is it my journals and perhaps the discovery even more so of what life really was like for me? Or is it the songs that I have recorded (by now onto the computer) for them to listen to over and over again once I am gone? Or is it just the memory of spending time with me? Is it the encouragement that I could impart through our conversations? Is it the inspiration that I might have the privilege of imparting to somebody, somebody out there? Just like Nanna…?
I was reading an article for my University studies earlier today and it was an article written all the way back in 1997, when the World Wide Web was still very fresh and revolutionising the way the world worked. The author writes about becoming your own brand in a world filled with projects – in a world when anyone could own a website; becoming your own brand, even as an individual.
Isn’t that where we are at today?
And isn’t that a little bit scary?
I remember in the early 2000’s, I had just moved in with my then-fiance and pretending to be a housewife of sorts. I was also spending time with the band I was lead singer of at the time. But for the most part I was discovering the World Wide Web – even more so than I had discovered it at the turn of its inception into the world, in my mid-teens.
During this time I was introduced to the concept of creating your own website which I found to be truly fascinating – for the first time I was going to be able to share some of my thoughts and my poetry and my otherwise mental meanderings. But this web fad did not last very long for it wasn’t very long before Myspace came along and made it possible for everyone to transfer their personalities onto an online profile – herein an extension for the personal website concept. And of course, the rest is history. By now, I think a lot of us have moved on from Myspace altogether and use Facebook… on a daily basis.
(Sometimes I wonder why we don’t just leave the screens and buttons alone and inhale a deep breath of the fresh air around us, and cast our eyes onto the people we love that are physically surrounding us…)
In essence, I realise now that we all have a much bigger and wider opportunity to leave our mark. We don’t have to turn our Facebook profiles into outreach projects or platforms of business; I guess what I’m thinking is that the opportunity to leave our mark has grown, and grown more sophisticatedly. With it, the inevitable fact that, once you are gone, there will be a script of your life and personality and passions and what you stood for, for everybody to read over and over again. The little girl that was writing journals with her descendants in mind doesn’t really have to worry about teaching anything anymore because it’s happening as we live it.
The article I was reading for university posed this question: What do you want to be famous for?
Famous?? You might ask. Yes, famous.
Is that what a legacy is?
Andy Warhol predicted that every single person in the world would one day have their 5 minutes of fame. And I believe that with social media such as Facebook and Twitter, everybody really does have their 5 minutes of fame. Forget 5 minutes, how about an ongoing fame? Your personality and what you’re made of is continually exposed, continually “out there”, available for scrutiny by anybody.
We all choose this to be so.
I would love to see what Nanna’s Facebook profile would look like – what her personality splashed on the screen would look like. There would be loads of smiling photos, cheeky photos of her eating sweets she shouldn’t be eating, and her Status Updates would read, “Look after her. Look after him.”
So what do I want to be famous for? What do I want to leave behind for my loved ones? What will be my everlasting imprint on this earth? What will be my legacy?
What have I done this week to make myself count? What have I done today to make an impression?
~ Originally written 7th January 2012