Devoting all your effort and time into leaving a legacy is like going to Disneyland and instead of actually going on the rides, you spend the whole day convincing people that no one has ever ridden Disneyland’s rides with such valour, bravery and heroism as you. That you ride the rides at Disneyland in a way that no man could ever, OR WILL EVER, match. All so that when it’s closing time and you’ve been kicked out, everyone will know what a Great and noble rider of Disneyland’s rides you once were.
As they used to say in the 1930’s: ‘baloney’.
This is George Costanza from Seinfeld, the archetypal luckless Loser of the 90s. In one episode, Jerry dates a virgin, something that George would never do, because:
Putting aside what he’s referring to, there’s genius and wisdom in what George says (though the best way to live is probably somewhere in the middle –to be indifferent to both things).
In Meditations, Marcus Aurelius points out that Alexander the Great ended up in exactly the same place and in exactly the same state as his mule driver –6 feet under and nothing but a pile of bones having their hydroxyapatite content degraded into nothing by the de-ionization process of inorganic material weathering².
Or for a more contemporary example, Elon Musk will end up in the exact same place as one of those guys who used to beat the crap out of him in high school³. No matter our status, fame or whatever we see as ‘success’, as we all enter the world the same way, so we leave it too.
I don’t go on and on about death because I think life’s pointless. I do it because it’s the opposite. Life is the point. By its very definition, no life takes place in the period after you have ceased to be alive. I ain’t no biologist, but according to my calculations, exactly zero amount of living can take place in a state of death.
So what’s the point in chasing something you have absolutely zero means of enjoying? How idiotic is the pursuit of something that, where you’re headed, can not and will not benefit you? Remembered? Forgotten? Whatever. Just live.
¹ I say ‘man’ here because… well, this is because: Just take a look at history, and have a look at how many men, both good and terrible were concerned about making sure people would talk about them or what they did, or compare them to similar ‘greats’ when they were gone. You’ve got one doing it right now in Russia.
³ Actually, bad example. One of those two will probably be on Earth but the other could be on another planet.