The Human Desire for Remembrance and Meaning

And How To Get It Right

People say that sleep deprivation and driving don't mix. I think most experts would agree with that statement for a number of reasons - namely, traffic fatalities. But for me, personally, sleep deprivation and afternoon rush hour traffic equals lots of existential pondering. And the subject I seem to ponder the most is the human desire to remembered. (I should probably look more into that whole traffic fatality thing though..) 

Our desire to be remembered, to make a mark on this world, to show that we once existed, is exclusively a human one. We erect personal monuments in the form of gravestones, or have loved ones scatter our ashes in places that were personally significant to us - all in a desperate attempt to leave something of ourselves behind. To prove that we were once here. 

...hold on to that yearning, and that desire to be remembered. Use it to live a life that will add more to this world than just another plot in your local cemetery, or ashes washed up and mingled with the sands on a shore.

A distant, alien culture might look at this human tendency and deem it futile, or self indulgent. They might be right. But, as a participating member of the human race, I see something else entirely. I see something fragile, something endearing, something earnest. I see the need to feel like we mattered - to know that we were loved, to know that the decisions we made within the thousands of days we strung together weren't meaningless. We simply can't bare the thought that one day everything we are, and everything we've done will all be forgotten. I think there's something honest in that, and it exposes this beautiful vulnerability within us. But, I also think there is something fundamentally flawed with the way we go about ensuring our remembrance. 

I think we accept, too easily, physical proof of our existence ( like gravestones), and symbolic ceremonies (like scattering ashes), but these things only prove that we were once alive. They say nothing of how we lived. They say nothing of our legacy. A life well lived - one that makes a difference - that is a legacy. That is something worth being remembered for. And it is something people often neglect and squander. I see it everyday on every level, and it is frustrating. I see it in business, and government, with people that hold positions of power and wealth, that have an incredible opportunity to build a legacy, to change numerous lives. Instead, they make decisions that only serve to gain them more power and more wealth. And at the end of their lives they leave the world no better off than when they came in. I'm sure their funeral services and headstones are top notch, though. 

So what I'm trying to say is hold on to that yearning, and that desire to be remembered. Use it to live a life that will add more to this world than just another plot in your local cemetery, or ashes washed up and mingled with the sands on a shore. Be mindful of the legacy you leave behind, and build upon it everyday with actions. I think if we do this, then we won't need our own personal monuments. Our history, the people we've helped, the good we've done, the lives we've touched - our legacy - will be our monument. And there will be no question that indeed we lived, and we lived greatly.  


- Kayleigh