“The worn stone of a statue always reminds me quite clearly that all things will fade with time.”
When we talk about what we want to leave behind when we leave this world we often talk in terms of possessions, memories and good intentions. We spend so much of our lives trying to build up this ethereal concept of “success” but the challenge is that success as a possession is unattainable.
Success can only be achieved when we recognize it as a value and not as a possession to be bought or acquired. When our focus is on merely material possessions and acquisitions we end up with nothing to leave behind.
Sure, you may leave wealth, a home, maybe even an endowment for a university, but because all you ever gathered in life was money, that’s all you’re leaving behind. Eventually, your money will be spent and your memory will fade. Then, like the unnamed gladiator’s tomb, all we will ever know of you is your tombstone, until that too fades.
There is an alternative. Live your values and teach them to others. If you leave values behind, with or without wealth, though you may be forgotten, and your money may be spent, the values and principles you teach will continue on for as long as people walk the earth. Your thoughts can be shared and live on when taught to others.
When we look back in antiquity, what has more influence today? Are the empires of even a millennia ago still here? Is their wealth still being spent by their children? No, these empires are gone. There wealth is spent and even their memorials are slowly fading.
However, their values and principles still live on as the foundations that our religions, philosophies and educational systems are built upon. That’s how you build a legacy. You create and share values and principles which bring people together and help the world—as a single community—prosper.