Two years later, it’s going to be, ‘who’s Conan?’ This is going to sound grim, but eventually, all our graves go unattended.
He recounts a conversation he had with the actor Albert Brooks
, in which he told Brooks he was awed by how his movies would “live on forever.”
And he looked at me and he said, [Albert Brooks voice] ‘What are you talking about? None of it matters.’ None of it matters? ‘No, that’s the secret. In 1940, people said Clark Gable is the face of the 20th Century. Who [expletive] thinks about Clark Gable? It doesn’t matter. You’ll be forgotten. I’ll be forgotten. We’ll all be forgotten.
I’m guilty of chasing after legacy. When I reflect on it now, it’s been the single most driver in my life - what legacy will I leave behind? The thought that my name will one day fade into the dust, just as my body will, is something that scares me. But it’s a pointless pursuit. I’ve had a hard time accepting this, but this week, I had to look into y soul and say yup: You’re never going to have a legacy, so give up trying.
This is not a bad thing. It means our names and legacies are mortal, just like us. And so we are free to choose a more meaningful lodestar to guide our lives, rather than chasing the ephemeral possibility that our names will be spoken with gravitas once we’re dead.
So what really matters then?
Perhaps what really matters is the experiences we have in the here and now. Savouring the moments in and of itself and leaving that legacy stuff for others to sort out.