Friday, February 22, 2008

What kind of legacy?

I recently met with my attorney to update my will. Because we have no children or siblings, deciding what to do with all the "stuff" that we have has caused me a bit of worry.

Maybe it's because the "stuff" has been in the family for generations. Maybe it's the love for the property where we live. The house is filled with family heirlooms. I also have all of my mother's papers and my father and uncle's memorabilia from their seagoing days. I also have to consider my beloved pets.

It surprised me that updating a will would bring up a lot of emotions. One of them was fear of loss of my wife. I've lost my parents and still grieve them. Loss of someone with whom I've spent most of my life is hard to contemplate. And I feel the guilt surrounding our relationship in which I'm now spending time doing things that I like. Am I being too selfish in recovery?

The other emotion was one of self-pity that revolved around whether anyone would miss me when I die. Would anyone care? What am I going to be remembered for? What have I done to make the world better or to help others?

Contemplating one's mortality is never easy. I think that the best thing I can do is make plans for the inevitable. But also believe that I can't get stuck in wondering about the future. Instead I'm much better off just being the best that I can be today. Then everything will fall into place.

"Our days are numbered. One of the primary goals in our lives should be to prepare for our last day. The legacy we leave is not just in our possessions, but in the quality of our lives. What preparations should we be making now? The greatest waste in all of our earth, which cannot be recycled or reclaimed, is our waste of the time that God has given us each day."
Billy Graham


  1. I have had these exact thoughts. However, I do have children to pass things on to but what I want to be remembered for is that I tried to live a good life.

  2. good lordie what a great post. i don't know if you read my post weeks ago when i fainted at work and went to the ER. The incident itself ended up not being a big deal in the fact I was really just fine physically. HOWEVER - when I saw the ER staff trying to revive someone while I was waiting to go in?? Scary! It made me think about all the things you wrote about: dogs, the stuff, work left undone in so many areas of life..

    on some level i did realize though - that no matter all that STUFF.. LIFE WILL GO ON - some THING or some ONE will take care of all that's left behind.. we still have to make plans I think to HELP OTHERS make decisions if something happens.. make it EASIER perhaps

    we don't have kids either - adds another level to the process of WHO then to leave the tasks to..

    good post!!

  3. I think this very small slice of your life that you present to us each week is important. I have learned a number of facts about life from reading your posts.
    Never underestimate the power of the written word.
    Have THE great weekend!!

  4. Human BEING not a human DOING.
    The outward evidence can be misleading. don't look to the 'world' for validation as it is temporary therefore will disappoint eventually. But if the world is secondary you can 'do stuff' without losing perspective of its true significance. Inner work is very important, and may NEVER 'reveal itself' to you. It is only the ego that wants its identity reinforced. Better to ignore all its requests for validation.
    Don't worry. Its the quality of your inner condition or presence that matters. A life spent 'doing' that leaves you unsatisfied is no good. The big book says be happy joyous and free first, and have a life whose purpose is helpfulness. I think that's a good enough map for me. Regardless of what results I get to see. Results are nice it has to be said, but I shouldn't rely on them. A lot of it is faith really. We see so little lets face it. And no matter what we TRY to do, we will still end up making stupid mistakes again and again. So lousy best is about as good as it gets!

    Giving Meaning To Your Life?
    A New Earth - Awakening to Your Life's Purpose (Disc 7)

    Human BEING
    What meditation really is - Sogyal Rinpoche

    But yes, make a will that reflects your values as this will be better than leaving it to the state to divest.

  5. I had a lot of problems when my brother died without a will...and no savings or insurance.
    After that episode I ran to the notary and made up a simple will. I have very little material things of no great value...a simple house, et..but still a wonderful feeling of peace came over when I left his office.
    It is good to take care of these things now as I assure you when you are on your dying won't be thinking of a plot of land or an antique...but a life well-lived.

  6. i also don't like doing that. thinking about the when i'm no longer here bit. but do it one has to, we've got the bean to consider after all. thankfully that's done and was updated too late last year. now i can forget about it...


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