JKLTip We are all leaving a legacy, so ask how and what it is.
We live in a fast-paced world. Things happen quickly, literally in the blink of an eye. Don’t believe me? Ask anyone who lost a family member suddenly and they’ll put some perspective on it. Literally one single event can change the context of everything we know. It’s worth understanding that whether we like it or not, we are all leaving a legacy.
News travels fast too. As soon as we learn about one thing we are being bombarded by reports of the next. In a rapid world with so much information, we tend to forget quickly too. In recent years there have been a number of deaths that have had a very large scale impact on culture.
For me, I think of Prince, Mac Miller, Gord Downie and now Kobe Bryant. There are so many deaths year in and year out of people who had millions of fans. And one thing that tends to happen is people asking a question like “why are we all talking about them just because they were famous, many other people died today too?”
What About The Others?
The answer is simple, these celebrities have had a real impact on their followers, especially the most loyal ones. They are more than fans. They are people whose lives have been altered because of them. Like any death of a loved one you see daily, it is sad and people are grieving.
When news broke of the Kobe helicopter crash many were quick to say, what about the others, why aren’t we talking about them? Well, it’s hard to answer without sounding insensitive, but I’ll try. Many people died that day, right in our very own towns. But I doubt anyone goes to their local funeral home in hopes of supporting any random person. While it is sad for others, and we keep them in our thoughts and prayers, we tend to go pay our respects to those who have changed us.
Celebrity deaths are no different. People feel like a part of themselves dies right along with the superstar. It’s also worth noting that even though celebrity deaths go massively viral, it doesn’t last long. We listen to purple rain, and hold a day of remembrance, and then onward and upward as a society. Something new will be trending on social media within days and what remains is from leaving a legacy.
What We Can Do
Loss will always be a stressor, but it has the chance to be channeled positive, or negative. Grief, no matter how it comes to be, is important to deal with. And we all grieve in our own way. I’ve always turned to art, to create something, ideally and physical activity, like sports, or a workout.
When celebrities die, our perception and memories are often frozen in time. Think Heath Ledger’s joker, or Chris Farley dancing as a Chippendale. When their deaths are sudden, it smacks us over the head with the reality of our own mortality and how life can be so fleeting. The best thing we can do is live our lives as though we may always be taking our last good breath.
We can not control when our time will be up. But what we can control is how we are leaving a legacy for those we care most about. What do we leave behind for friends, family and our community?
Why Are We Leaving A Legacy?
More so now than ever before we have the power and tools to pass things on. The TV show version of thirteen reasons why really put a spotlight on this debate. Without debating the rights or wrongs of the show, one thing it demonstrates is that you can leave messages for others to find. Not only can you, but it’s important to realize that we are all leaving a legacy.
I wrote a poem last year called “I Love Someone Who Lost Her One” as a note to my daughters. Leaving things like this around is important to me because death doesn’t discriminate. I, like you, am just another carbon-based life form. And so, I know the reality is I could be here one moment and gone the next. While I’m not “gone” I create, as much as possible. It’s important to create things we would want our family, students, and community to learn from.
I mean think about it. I would give anything to be able to ask my grandfather questions about business, workout with friends who have passed, or collaborate with Mac Miller, but I can’t. They are all gone. What remains is whatever they left.
It Should Be Refreshing
The fact we are alive is an opportunity we should be taking advantage of. This angle to life has helped me do two things I naturally hate. One, public speaking and two, talking on video. Because the importance of leaving a legacy far outweighs the social repercussions of public speaking or making videos, it’s easy to push record or grab the mic. No internet troll or colleague will be able to keep me from creating when they are competing with the well being of my daughter’s beyond my existence.
It is often the case that people think of their kids as their legacy. Sometimes this takes shape in a formal sense, with an heir to a throne, or business. But what about creating content whose life you might impact that you don’t even know? Do you think Kobe Bryant knows that when I, Justin Nolan, am a bit tired during a workout, that I push just a little harder because his mamba voice pops in my head? I doubt it very much.
Just Create More Of You
So, I create for those who may, or may not benefit. Those who won’t benefit, well they didn’t find it, or it wasn’t for them. It’s as simple as that. Sure with projects like #JKL200 I hope my kids and students directly learn to follow their own dreams. But, beyond my inner circle, I won’t be able to control who else it teaches.
If I go down in a crash, there is a chance people will pick these things up and learn to be vulnerable, have a growth mindset and follow their dreams. That’s pretty cool and it’s an opportunity that is pretty new with this socially intertwined globe we live on. The best way we learn anything new is by trying it, by doing, by actively figuring it out, so I hope you engage with leaving a legacy too.