I hope mortality isn't a running theme in my musings, but it certainly has cropped up a few times on the blog over the past year. Yet, as I say each time, mortality has never adhered to timing or any rules for that matter, so its appearance shouldn't come as a total shocker.
This weekend I attended the memorial service of a close friend's mother, who passed on after a courageous battle with cancer. Beyond the sadness of the passing and the other emotions associated with a final goodbye, I couldn't get past the amazing turnout for the event, not only in numbers but in diversity. This lady had touched far more people than I think she ever realized, and touched them deeply enough to have them converge from around the world to say goodbye one last time.
For some reason that left a huge impression on me, and, naturally, the wheels began turning in my head. Who would be at my memorial service? What type of legacy would I leave? Wouldn't it be weird and a little bit amazing to see this as a fly on the wall, return to life and apply what you've learned to improving your life?
Maybe one of the most fascinating things I've picked up from college classes is the story of Alfred Nobel. Alfred was afforded this "second chance" at life. Nobel was a renowned chemist, who, along with his contributions to steel manufacturing, developed dynamite. Dynamite was initially intended for construction purposes but quickly became a lethal weapon during the time period of the late 1800s.
When Alfred's brother passed away, many mistook the news and reported Alfred's death, including several newspapers. One newspaper denoted Alfred as the "merchant of death" because of his creation of dynamite. It stated that it was inconceivabale for a man to make so much money off of other people's deaths.
This news deeply hurt Nobel, as he had invented dynamite as a tool, not a weapon. However, after reporting that he was indeed still alive, Nobel took this information and made a change. Nobel dedicated his remaining years to reversing the legacy he had unintentionally earned, and on his deathbed donated a great amount of his fortune to creating the Nobel Peace Prize. Today, Nobel is most famously remembered for his prize, not for his time as the "Merchant of Death".
Now flash-forward. If your life ended today (hypothetical!!) what would your legacy be? Would you be remembered for the good things you've done or the mistakes you've made?
I like to think people would remember me as someone who listened and learned, who tried to be there for people when they needed him and who wanted to appreciate as much of life as he could. But I have to wonder...is that what other people see?
One thing I am sure of however is that my memorial service would be pretty funny. I have been fortunate to meet some amazing people throughout my life, whether it be in school, at home, travelling or just in random places along my road of life. I feel like half of the time would be spent wondering, "How did this guy know him? That's kind of random." I think it would open up an entertaining forum of meet and greet that I hope people would enjoy as much as I would enjoy watching. Hmm but maybe that's just me musing... stay classy planet Earth