Being Remembered (Is Not Important)
If one believes that being remembered is important, then one has fallen prey to an all-too-common delusion — the delusion of immortality. I don’t believe that anyone is ever truly remembered. Even the men whom are “remembered” in the history textbooks are men whom are mostly mythologized and composed out of our imaginative interpretations of whom these people really were. No one remembers Napoleon Bonaparte, Caesar, or Socrates. These were once human beings whom have long since ceased to be human beings. They have become instead, “historical figures”. We don’t know whom they truly were, what they truly thought. We only have glimpses into their character either through writing of their own, or through the writing of others. Yet we know that language is an inherently inefficient tool for the understanding of our fellow human beings. The same can be said for any man living or dead. The closest we can come to truly understanding a person is by relating to them in the present. When the present flows ever onward (as it surely does and is doing now), the past lays claim to one’s death and all that remains is ash and imagination. The past is composed primarily of myth. Myth is history.
This lack of an immortality also sheds light on what is important. If all things fade into the oblivion of time and space — such as ourselves, our books, our art, our civilizations, our planet, our galaxy (which is currently on a collision course with the Andromeda galaxy) — than what is important has nothing to do with what lasts, because nothing ever lasts.
No thing, person, or relationship is permanent. All is transmutable. All changes form. So, what is important? What is important is what you are at this present moment. Are you the best, most honest, most wholesome, most gracious, most healthy, most virtuous human being you can be? If not, why not? Is it because you are busy striving for immortality? It is because you are distracted and confused by delusions of vast triviality? I have always agreed with the existentialists that the meaning of life is merely that meaning which you ascribe to it. But more accurately, the meaning of life is to live. How you live is up to you!
Meanwhile, the names and dates chiseled upon all our gravestones in all of the cemeteries around the world are being eroded by the entropic force of time…all will soon conjoin to a smooth, unremarkable surface.
Addendum to this Essay:
I used to write my books with the idea of an immortality for myself, the author, in mind. I fantasized about people reading my books and proclaiming the heights of my great, literary genius long after I was dead. Now that my perception has been met with much greater clarity, I say — What an idiotic ego trip this is! Who the hell cares? Certainly not I. Not any longer.
Now I write with a different intent. I am now more mindful with my writing. I write solely to entertain and educate family and friends and other fellow human beings, whom I love and cherish very much — and only at the expense of this present moment, which is all one has, until one is no more.
After all, we are united by a uniform fate — we are destined to join in inevitable and ineffable nothing, or, that which we were before we were born.
It is precisely as what the musician known as Frank Zappa once observed, “It is not important to be remembered.”