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We Are

The Student Media Site of William Clarke College

We Are

The Student Media Site of William Clarke College

We Are

They Say That We Will Die Twice

“If you were to die tomorrow, how would you be remembered?”
Taken from Timon Studler, Featured in Editorial.

This article was written for the Whitlam Institute’s What Matters? Writing Competition and has been republished for WE ARE.

They say that we die twice.

First, when our physical bodies give up on us. And second, when a person on earth says your name for the last time. The space between is what we call a legacy.

Similarly, they say we are all born twice. First when our physical bodies enter the earth, and again when we understand why. From ancient times, human beings have had an innate desire to live a purposeful life, carrying the existential angst of needing to be remembered by the world when we are gone. In the words of philosopher William James, “the great use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it”. But is that really all there is to our lives? Dedicating everything to what will outlive us?

Maybe it’s the only way people know how to cope with the idea of death.

Death is inevitable; we are only given a certain amount of heart beats, a certain number of breaths. Some believe time is man’s greatest enemy. A river, forever flowing forward through turbulent and calm waters, and whether we desire it or not moving us steadily towards death.

Yet some find comfort in knowing there is an end. Comfort in knowing that they have served their purpose on earth, leaving the world to the next generation, and that’s where our legacy takes stage. Some people leave legacies that last several generations, marked in history books, and flashed in neon lights, while others are humbly imprinted on the hearts of the people they loved.

You see, there are no rules or guidelines to follow. No “Leaving a legacy for dummies” guide. Once we are gone that’s it, and there’s no way of knowing what we left behind. So why does it really matter? And the truth is, I can’t answer that. A legacy is what each individual makes it, some will not even care for the world beyond their time, yet others value the unseen future more than the present. But what’s vital to understand is that legacy is not only for the rich and famous whose ‘meaningful’ lives are spotlighted. Every single human life is valuable, no matter what you do with it, and how you leave it.

But a legacy is more than just the world knowing your name, isn’t it?

It’s being a rock thrown in the river unable to see the growing ripple, a call to action inspiring the people we leave behind, a seed planted in a garden that you never see grow. But most importantly, a legacy is a reminder of our humanity.

Not the ink stains in a dusty book.

Not the blinding colour of neon lights.

Not the thousands of “followers.”

Because a legacy isn’t about changing the world, it’s about changing the hearts of the people in your world.

Do you want to be remembered in history books, or by the people you love?

Are you concerned about when a person on earth says your name for the last time, or who on earth will say your name for the last time?

If you were to die tomorrow, how would you be remembered?

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  • Simone HazelwoodAug 3, 2023 at 8:38 am

    very thought-provoking piece Abi. Thanks.