Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you’re there.
The subject of legacy keeps popping up here, and my understanding, especially since the last post has been that it is not something that one works towards, but happens as a (side) result of doing something that you love to do. In that sense, I would read between the lines above and add that ‘doing what you love to do’ as a prequel to the quote.
One of the best posts I have recently read was Hugh MacLeod’s ‘On Mastery‘. I immediately riffed on it over at the other blog. It articulated things that I know for certain were muddled up somewhere in me, wanting to be told but finding words missing. He starts with trying to define success “Success”. What does it take to be successful, prosperous, happy, have a sense of purpose etc?, separates it from the by products like fame and money and arrives at “It’s something that truly belongs to you”. For the master (as someone commented on the post) it’s more about the process than the product. Low key, known by a few, but masters in their chosen domain. “It’s something that truly belongs to you, always.”
In the ever hyper world of real time media, micro-celebrities and experts, fame and money are many times the definitions of ‘success’, and though I do know at least a few people who have bucked that trend, it was heartening to read posts that told me that such thoughts weren’t really alien.
There is an interesting article I read on the subject on HBR titled “You Are Not a Failure” which had an intriguing classification of types of creativity — “conceptual” (in which a young person has a clear vision and executes it early, a la Picasso or Zuckerberg) and “experimental” (think Cezanne or Virginia Woolf, practicing and refining their craft over time and winning late-in-life success).
Thanks to the deluge of information and opinions, it is ridiculously easy to give up on yourself and lose confidence. As Godin writes in “Do we have to pander?“, it is also easy to compromise, and then defend. I think this is not just for greatness (people or things), but also holds true for personal belief systems and mores. And probably, at the very end, the perseverance really doesn’t achieve anything other than the satisfaction of setting one’s own definition of success and spending time and energy on it. But I have a feeling it’s worth it. A legacy in itself.
until next time, this happens to be post #1000 here