Every time someone well known or well loved dies and I see such a strong sentiment of loss, I’m reminded to learn about that person and find out why their lives were so impactful. Then I ask what would I leave behind? What is our own legacy and story, something that will mean a lot to more than a few people?.
Think about this carefully. Money won’t score here as it will only help an immediate few family members. Your property portfolio, your investments, your cars, the 100s of holidays you’ve enjoyed, the tons and gallons of food and drink you’ve consumed won’t be remembered. Neither will how many reps you did in the gym or how many cosmetic procedures you had done, although these might have been tools to help you achieve something that would be remembered.
Your legacy is what counts here and in particular, how your life touched someone elses. Raising and teaching your kids, the charity work you’ve done, the therapy work where you literally put someone’s life back on course, the people who’s lives you changed by just being here…and doing your thing. The music you made and left behind…The TV and films that you produced. This is the stuff transcends death and time.
What’s really fascinating to me about Matthew Perry’s story is not the drugs he took, nor the money he made, but that he put a Matthew Perry shaped dent into human culture, a legacy where his character will be remembered in a pantheon of TV entertainment. But also that despite his own considerable demons, he spent so much of his time helping others with the same issues as him.
If you are struggling for a meaning to life then your answer I think is presented by those who have given it a meaning. Some people think it’s just there to be enjoyed, some believe it’s a commitment to service or duty, but for me, I need to follow an urge to leave a positive mark. I’m not asking for Matthew Perry levels of recognition, that, as it was for him would be a curse, but just leaving a world that has benefitted from you being there is surely an amazing thing. I think we should try to put our time into that, because that surely means the most.