“Hamilton” fans will recognize this line from the final song of the musical: “Who lives, who dies, who tells your story?” It’s repeated several times throughout the song, to emphasize on a very strong point: How do you want your legacy to look like? How do you want to be remembered, if at all? What contribution do you want to leave in this world when you are long gone?
I feel that for writers, or really any artists, they have the upper advantage in leaving something behind, and that is their art. What we create is born out of the essences of our souls, and it’s because of its origins and its impact on people that brings about the life force to hang around even after we have passed on.
But of course, creating art is just one method. Those who are in the positions to make change can just as well make that their legacy. However, it’s worth noting that that’s not always a good thing; especially when that change can cause more damage than good. I think of this when I shake my head at the ignorance of the current administration, for they do not realize that no one is going to want to remember them for the damage they’re doing.
What may be just as unfortunate is how and when one’s life ends and their legacy begins. This definitely comes to mind when I think of the 59 people who were killed last Sunday in Las Vegas. Based on what I’ve heard about them, they all sounded like genuinely wonderful people. It’s just sickening that their legacies began when their lives were unfairly taken away too soon.
The power of a legacy was a theme that emerged all on its own when writing An Absolute Mind. It played into the whole notion of memory being more than just what one person can recall on their own from their past. Through memory, it was also about carrying on the legacies of those who passed; even the ones of those you never really got to know.
With all these outlooks on the power of legacy in mind, I look to my life, my constantly growing body of work, the struggle to get people to open up to it all, and ponder how it will all be perceived when I’m gone. Will I truly be remembered as a storyteller, or as someone whose stories were heard too late?