So my best friend and I got drunk together last night. It was one of those throwback moments to when we lived together when we just drank and stayed up talking about nothing and everything.
It was one of the best conversations I've had in a long time. I love my partner but he is not good about talking about the deeper meanings of life. He is more of a 'take it as it comes and don't worry about it beforehand' kind of guy which I appreciate but sometimes I need to vent and speculate and talk about the bigger picture. That is what friends are for.
My friend and I talked about life and death and dying and death culture and the reason that everything happens. We skirted around the fact that I may not be alive in a year for her wedding and talked about how life will continue after I die. The best part of the conversation personally was when she told me how much I have meant in her life. I realize that is egotistical sounding but for me, it was incredibly moving to hear.
My grandmother died recently and when I have been reflecting on her life, I've been pondering what is meant to have a legacy. My grammy worked for many years as a nurse and raised five children and has many grandchildren. In my view, her legacy would be her family and her fabulous career. I would not say that her life impacted society in some great shifting way. She did not discover a new cure for a disease or start a revolution but she always had treats waiting when we visited her house. She was a fantastic nurse (so I"ve heard) to many patients and was a loving mother and grandmother to her family. She was known to few people outside of her family or area but I believe she lives on through the memories of her family and those she worked with which would be her legacy.
I think as a culture, we are focused on what our legacy will be when we die. We like to have something tangible that we can point to and say 'that is my legacy'. Whether it is one's children or career or years spent volunteering or a youtube viral video they once had. For some reason, we all need a greater purpose outside of being a good human being and being kind to one another. It is almost as if anyone who does not have anything tangible to leave behind is seen as a lesser human. I will not probably have any of those things (viral video pending), I simply do not have the time. Sometimes this makes me feel lost, as though I need to be doing something more significant with my time than sitting at home knitting dishcloths or painting another canvas. Part of our society tells us that we are not worthy if we do not have children or a full time job to contribute to the world. That people who stay at home not paying taxes are 'less than'. Logically, I know this is not true. I am able to rationalize outside of that pressure but every once in awhile it gets to me.
I know how fortunate I am compared to millions of people: I have a place to sleep, I have friends and family who love me, I have food on the table, my disability is hidden so I do not get treated different in public, I've traveled, I've been to university (twice!), I had a (very short) fabulous job. I wonder if people who are financially and medically less fortunate as me feel the same way. Do they wonder what their legacy will be? Do they wonder why some members of society and politicians view them as less worthy? Is this just some self-indulgent reflection that I'm feeling as someone from a wealthy developed country?
...back to the conversation with my friend, after pondering these questions with her, she said that my legacy is all the moments I've had with other people. All the times I've influenced someones life or had a meaningful conversation with another person. It will be in how the people I know and love remember me. Then she told me how much I have meant to her and how seeing me just live my life has influenced her life. You may not be able to point to it but my life will have meaning through the way it has changed other people. That will be my legacy.
I think sometimes we do not realize how our interactions can change other people. Or how much we can mean to another person. I wonder if the amazing people people who have impacted my life are aware of it. I really need to start telling those people how appreciate they are before I run out of chances.
I also need to drink another litre of water.