What if you aren’t rich and don’t own valuable possessions that will be left behind after you’re gone?
I never had children and I’ve been plagued for many years by this question about what will remain after my physical being is gone. Perhaps it’s egotistical to say that I’ve always wanted to leave something behind…a legacy of some sort, but what could that be?
My writing seems to be the obvious answer and reason for the title of this post.
What if the only things you leave behind are your words?
Sometime in the 1630’s Boston Puritan poet, Anne Bradstreet, contemplated her legacy when she penned a letter with a poem to her husband, Simon. Pregnant, she feared she might die in childbirth and wanted to be sure to leave something of herself. She felt solace in knowing that the words of her poem would leave her mark on the world and would stand as a physical presence to those who loved her:
“And if chance to thine eyes shall bring this
With some sad sighs honour my absent
And kiss this paper for thy loves dear
Who with salt tears this last Farewel did
It chokes me up to think of a bereft husband or other relative holding dearly the paper that last touched a beloved…that the ink brought forth the words that came from her being. We don’t have that physicality today, and that is sad too.
Perhaps because we don’t have a poem written in ink today, it’s more important than ever to pen some sort of legacy – whether you have descendants or not. And it doesn’t have to be a full-on treatise about the minutia of every corner of your life.
I doubt anyone wants to know who first kissed me or what I did with my first paycheck or about the argument with my father that made me run away from home when I was 14. I believe it’s more important to leave some thoughts on what your beliefs are, and how you felt about things. Personally, I wouldn’t waste time sharing my feelings about an opposing political party. Also I can’t picture a final bitch session as anything productive either.
One page. It can be one page telling the world who you are…who you were and what you felt, what you believed in and what you cherished. Wouldn’t a spouse or your children or even a friend delight in reading how profoundly positive they had affected your life and how they made your life richer and much more fun? That’s what I’m going to write about.
I’d like to think my one page would make people smile.
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