Don’t Worry About Leaving a Legacy After Death

What can I do in my life that won’t fade? I got a great question in my productivity course:

Jerry, I’m old and I haven’t accomplished anything in my life and I’m frustrated, what do I do?

This will be a useful answer to that.

One of the biggest things I’ve accomplished is my daughter.  My daughter and I are having some skin to skin time while her mom takes a nap. One of the biggest things I thought I could accomplish was to become a parent. It was one of the last bucket list things I thought I wanted to do before I died was to have a child. That, to me, was the ultimate accomplishment.

That was preceded by needing to have a wife. Then the things I thought would lead to a girlfriend or wife like a good job or education. All these accomplishments led up to having a family so that someone would outlive me and carry on my name when I died. What can I accomplish that doesn’t face because all forms fade? This body will fade and my daughter’s little brand new body will fade too. Someday I will be cremated and burned up. This body will and my spirit will go on and some day she will too.

The thing is there’s nothing I can do today that won’t fade over time. You look at these things you think are so good to accomplish like writing a bestselling book or I want to have a family. I want to be this guy online that makes videos and has a big audience. I want to make lots of money. I want to have a nice house. I want to have a good reputation. I want people to respect me. All those things fade. That means it’s not worth ruining today to get something else that will fade. Today is all you have. Anything you accomplish today will fade at some point.

Just like you look at someone being a president or a leader of a country and for a while they may be this great thing. They may have banners up and signs and flags and things with their face on it. Then what are they someday? They’re just another body that’s buried and burned up. They’re gone. In 10,000 years who remembers them? Do you remember anyone alive from 10,000 years ago? There were people alive. There were lots of people alive 10,000 years ago. Do you remember any of them? I don’t know one bestselling author from 10,000 years ago. 100,000 to a million years in the future no one will remember any of us.

These things we do online that you put things online and it’s forever. It will be gone and replaced by something else. Nothing you do today will go on forever. If you can place your spirit in a good state of being now, that can go on for longer than any accomplishment you can have. I’m grateful today to know there’s no race I have to win, no battle I have to win. There’s no award I have to receive, no money I have to make, there’s nothing I have to do that will last forever. Even having a family doesn’t last forever. I might be a parent of more children. Someday this body will have faded and all  their bodies will have faded. If you get to know people that are older this is more obvious. There’s a guy that goes to my support group. His wife has died, he had 10 brothers and sisters and they’ve all died. His parents have all died.

What’s the benefit of knowing this? You might say that you realize in a billion years it will all be gone. What does that matter for today? It means that you don’t have to validate today based on some achievement you might have in the past or some achievement you might have in the future. it means today is good enough just how it is. it means you don’t need to finish your degree to be who you are.

You don’t need to have a boyfriend or a girlfriend or a family to enjoy your life today. If you haven’t accomplished anything up until this point in life, that’s okay because you can’t accomplish anything in the future either. I receive so much positive feedback about what I do online. It’s nice to say things like you’ll have this in the future as if that will be better than what I have now. If I have 100,000 subscribers in the future, that’s no better than 20,000 right now. Sure, more people will watch the videos I make, but you right here is enough right now. I don’t need more people watching besides you to validate what I’m doing. In fact, just making this video is good for me even if no one is watching it.

I’m happy I’m having fun making this video here. I love doing this. I’ve loved the camera since I was little Madelyn’s age and the only way you could get me to stop crying was to put me on camera.  I remember that even from being a kid. I love family pictures. I loved doing it and I love doing it now. That doesn’t need to be validated by anything happening in the future. If I have 100k or a million subscribers on YouTube in the future. Great, that’s wonderful. At some point far enough in the future, YouTube will be deleted. There won’t be anything else left. We’re all leaving in the end.

That’s how life is. You start with nothing, you end with nothing. There’s nothing in the middle of it to be accomplished. It’s just like watching a movie. You watch the movie and you enjoy sitting there and sharing the journey. You enjoy seeing what happens. You enjoy the struggles the characters go through and by then life’s no different than it was before. You might have cried. You might have learned something new, but you’re still sitting there on the couch or on a plane watching a movie and life goes on and our lives are like a movie. We are the one’s watching them. The real you is the one that sits in the back and watches.

That’s what’s awesome about this. It’s like playing Xbox or a video game. You often think of yourself as the character in the game. Whatever the character in the game is doing, but you’re holding the controller. You’re like the spiritual being holding the controller. That spiritual being may have something to accomplish here in life. The only thing that can be accomplished here in life is right now because there’s the one eternal moment. You can’t tell me there’s one moment other than now, it’s not possible. There is only now and the mind imagines these future scenarios where now will be better. That will drive you insane.

I used to think that if I got with this hot girl then everyone would know how amazing I was and I would then feel amazing. I would feel awesome about myself. I’m lucky that I actually got to do that when I was younger and now I have a beautiful wife that’s just amazing. Yet, it doesn’t make any difference to me now. My wife, either her or me, is going to have to deal with the other passing at some point. We both had to deal with most of our lives so far without each other in them so this is something to be grateful for. What I found out when I got the things I wanted in life is that I was actually more miserable because the little fantasy  bubble has popped. For a moment I could see the full joy of now and I didn’t know what else I needed to achieve to get it and then I was depressed.

The night after that amazing person comes over and you start realizing life doesn’t get any better. Life is actually the same as it’s always been. This thing that I’ve accomplished doesn’t make me any happier. In fact, it makes me more miserable because now I don’t know what else I need to accomplish  to feel better again. Now that feels hopeless. That feels like the matrix is falling apart and that feels good. It’s painful to let the matrix fall apart and let your idea of you fall apart. How much money you’ve made or how much followers you have online. That doesn’t matter. What matters is what I’ve done today. The work I do today Is all I have. All I can do is my best today.

When I start expecting that I have to achieve something today I start getting miserable. I don’t know what I’m going to do today. I only pray that I’ll do the right things today. I know there’s nothing I can really accomplish today. Yesterday I moved my studio around and I hung up all these curtains in it and there’s a green curtain over here. I got them hung up and that takes several hours. You know what I accomplished? To do the right thing in the moment. That’s all I’ve accomplished. It took 3 hours to set the studio up.

What did I accomplish? I was tired, cranky, ready for bed. I watched TV and then went to bed I went to bed feeling like I haven’t done enough. But then I ask how could I have done any more. I’m doing my best right now and I could see a little bit of the futility of defining myself through expectations. If my wife and I move somewhere, all this stuff will be taken away, moved, packed, or sold. That’s how life works. There’s nothing you can do, put up and build that won’t fall apart. It’s so traumatic lots of times when you see something fall apart. There’s this illusion in the USA that we have all these buildings and can affords all these good materials. There’s the illusion that the things you build go on forever. The  illusion that you put up this skyscraper and it will be there forever. Then when it falls down, it’s such a tragedy. That’s how life is.

All the religious works tell us to think about nature of growth and decay in life. A tree can’t come out of the ground without committing itself to growing tall and then falling back into the ground. And you can’t take a breath today without being committed to not taking a breath some day. You came into this world not needing to breathe, your mom breathed for you. The before you were even conceived you didn’t’ have to breath. Each breath today is a gift. The most you can do is that deep breath you’re taking. Sometimes the most you can do is to stop living like an infant. The infant that screams and whines I love her so much and she’s so beautiful and she lives now how I lived most of my life.

When she’s not happy, she screams and whines and cries and thrashes her arms around. The most you can achieve is to not live like an infant. When life gives you a challenge, don’t sit down and whine about it, just accept it and say thank you. Live life with some grace. Anything you’re doing that’s non-spiritual fades. Any of the work you do on your body, I’m grateful I’m losing weight and then someday I’ll lose all my weight. I will weigh zero and have no weight. The work I do to lose weight to exercise and eat right, someday  that won’t matter. If you can see how you’re a part of the whole, the only thing to do is to try and live each day with grace.

Today  I pray to live today with some grace. I pray to realize that there’s nothing more I can accomplished today than living today with grace and connection to others. Through that connection to others, I can do more than I ever imagined. I can be useful to more people in my life than I ever imagined. You aren’t doing videos online and you have just as much importance as anything you can imagine I have. The people in your life are all doing things too. You’re doing things. When you love people in your life, you can help them do their best. Everyone that’s loved me has helped put me here. I’m not separate from all they’ve done. I couldn’t be here to be useful for you without everyone in my life that’s been there and was useful for me. I wouldn’t have lived without all that love and support. Today I’m grateful to know that all I can do is to live today with some grace. I pray that you can have the same chance today. I pray that the loving spirit I’ve tried to communicate today and sincere desire I have to be useful and help you is communicated. I hope you have a great day today and I value your feedback as always. I value the feedback you share with me and I do my best to try to respond as quick as I can. Have a great day today.