Whenever we have a spate of celebrity deaths or are personally touched by loss we frequently begin to think of our own mortality. Death is inevitable for everyone, it doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor, nice or mean, or man or woman… nobody gets out alive. What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind you when the time comes in the hopefully distant future? What do you want to be remembered for?
In Judaism it is believed that there are ways to avoid a “second death” by remembering someone, doing good deeds in that person’s name, and always being inspired by the deceased to make us want to live better and more thoughtful lives. How do we assure that we will be remembered? How can we be the kind of person who could inspire goodness in others?
Think of the things you would WANT to be remembered for; think of the things you believe you WOULD be remembered for. Compare those two lists — which do you want more? Do you think you would be remembered for the hours you spent away from your family making more money than you truly needed? Would you be remembered for the fancy car you drove? Or would you be remembered for your generosity and compassion for those around you?
When I am no longer physically on this earth I hope that people would remember that they felt comfortable talking to me because they could trust me; I would want to be remembered for the time I gave to family and friends; I want folks to remember that I was passionate about living beings and their welfare; and I would want to be remembered for my laughter and my tears when others needed it most. I want my friends and family to know that I accepted that I was a mere human trying my best to be decent and thoughtful. When I die I would hope that people would celebrate the life I lived and would remember at least some happiness they had for knowing me.
Live your life well, make the “dash” between the dates on your headstone mean something. Enjoy the hugs you share with loved ones, the laughter you hear from children playing, the sounds and smells of nature all around you, and the joy you feel when you’ve made someone smile. Be the kind of person you would admire and know the difference between false vanity and the true “success” of respect. Do your job well, not just for the reward of money, but because the way you do your job makes this a better world for someone. Hold your lover’s hand, not because you expect something in return, but because you just want to be there with him/her.
Live a wonderful life full of joy and happiness.