2010-11-09

Do Fatalists Dream of Pop-Up Legacies?

Does anyone have hopes for the future anymore?  Not fears, lists of preventive measures, potential disasters, or formulations of the 'least worst' scenario, but actual hopes and (dare I say) dreams? 

With the rising popularity of Westernized Buddhist philosophy, DIY psychology books, and groups like AA set up to do damage control on those already desperate for help, sometimes I think we are losing faith in anything that can't be done today.  One question I truly dislike is:  "If this was your last day to live, what would you do?"  Or, as I understand it:  "Do you live every day as if it was your last?"

In response to the former question:  I don't know, and I wouldn't try to figure it out if I only had one day left to live.

To the latter:  No.

Part of me thinks this push to prove oneself and one's worth constantly is destroying the great thinkers in our society.  Big projects take time, thought, planning; they require periods of development which yield no tangible result.  Yet in what appears inert major breakthroughs can be made, but thinking can't be held in a hand or keyed into a database.  Thought, then, is not the most important element in any course of action.  The result is most important.

If each day could be your last, you can't have a legacy.  No one can.  Legacies are not founded on a life in which each day the slate of experience is scrubbed clean and rewritten.  They are founded on real change, the type that can't be wrapped up and reported on in twenty four hours.  Real change takes time.  Finding one's true self takes time.  Achieving a goal takes time.  If you build a life out of twigs and hay, any wolf can knock it all down.  Should we be all too happy to scamper away and rebuild with more twigs, only to have these events repeat again and again, with we, the little pigs, resigned to living this way?  Or should we look toward the pig who used brick and mortar?  The pig who uses brick has days when his house is not finished yet, when he must lay nervously knowing the wolf may come by and see his incomplete walls and think he is an easy target.  He could build a straw house and hope to trick the wolf, but then what?  Wouldn't it be better to have fear now in exchange for no fear later?  Once that brick house is done, no wolf can break through those walls, and the pig will be free from the fear of him.  His life will be transformed.

As for me, I have no idea what my legacy will be.  I have just barely started to build the foundation for my own house of bricks.  I do have faith that a legacy, just like any part of the self given time to grow and emerge, will reveal itself.  It's going to take a very, very long time, though.

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