What I will leave behind when I die will not be much in terms of material wealth. I have not done everything I could have done to make the world a better place. People will probably not remember me at all. I don’t have great answers or solutions for the world’s problems, or even small ones.
Any insight I may have written down that seems to smack of wisdom probably came during the odd moment I was able to make my ego voice shut up so I could listen to God, or I just happened to remember imperfectly something a truly wise person said.
There is plenty of advice I will be itching to give my little son and any other child that might come along in the next few years. This advice is advice I wish I could travel back in time and give my own self. I don’t know if I’d listen to my older self, but I think that I probably would out of sheer terror at the sight of who I would become.
Some days, the only thing I feel like I have left is this ability to plunk down words across the screen, words that not even I will likely ever read again.
There are plenty of big themes that could continue to relentlessly receive my attention:
- Everything is going to be okay and eventually all of my dreams will come true either in this life or the next vs. the world is about to end and I am likely to end up in hell for eternity.
- I am perfectly comfortable and happy in my own skin and wouldn’t want to be anyone else vs. everyone else seems to be having a better or more interesting life than me.
- I am an extrovert trapped inside a socially retarded man’s body and personality vs. I am a tried and true introvert.
- Being is easy vs. being is never easy
And so on…
It can be a very comforting perspective gained once you come to the realization that you are not exceptional in any sort of way other than the fact that you are uniquely you. You have no special talents, brains, looks, etc. and people don’t really think much of anything at all when they see you passing by them as a stranger. They aren’t all snickering behind your back at the goofiest, ugliest person they’ve ever seen, and they aren’t busy wondering if you are somebody famous. They are lost in their own heads, their own worlds, preoccupied with whatever shiny thing they think they must move toward to make them happy.
You can’t change your brain, either. You can’t re-train your brain to run any faster or more efficiently, no matter how many drugs and apps and gimmicks you try. You will add a little more knowledge to the self that walks through this life, but you will forget almost everything. Try as you might, almost everything you do, see and say will go forgotten by you and everyone else.
If you are fortunate, you will convince the world to place your words on the shelves of a library somewhere–some sad little university library that never gets used by anyone. All of those books, proudly published and precious to their creators, collecting dust. No one has the time or space in their brains for too many ideas that belonged to someone else.
I read some article about sex inside a nursing home. I can usually put myself in other people’s shoes, even old people. But I just can’t quite conjure up an image of me at eighty wanting to get it on with another octagenarian. Never mind what my forty-year old (or younger) self might have thought about such activity among other people. I am just talking about me, personally, knowing that I have a hard enough time reminding myself that most of the middle age strangers I see running around in public who seem so old and grown-up, like at the airport or somewhere, are closer to my age than to the age of your average college kid. I would hazard a guess that I will still feel pretty damn young and immature on the inside, even at eighty, and not the least bit sexy when I look at myself in the mirror or see someone else my age naked. Maybe that stuff works for some people, but if I make it to eighty and my wife isn’t too unhappy about it (or she is no longer here), I will likely be a man who lives purely within words by then–stepping out to appreciate nature and art, for sure, but in my quiet private time, a man who immerses himself utterly in words rather than flesh.