Legacies

Last year, my history teacher gave us a project at the end of the school year. Called the “Me” Project, it actually had nothing to do with history. We were supposed to make a scrapbook with pages that related to lessons he taught.

One of the lessons my teacher taught us was the importance of leaving a legacy. He told us a story about a skier named C. R. Johnson. Basically, C. R. Johnson was really good at skiing, but then one day he got injured. After waking from his coma, he had to relearn how to walk, talk, eat, and all those actions we all go through in everyday life. After intense therapy, he was able to make a remarkable comeback, eventually skiing competitively again. He also started a foundation for injured professional athletes called, well, the C. R. Johnson Foundation. Not long after he got back to skiing, he died because he hit his head again. So, my teacher told us, it is important to leave a legacy, because then people will remember you after you even after death.

Something about the message bothered me though. I tried talking to A. about it but I still couldn’t figure out what it was.  So I did some random thing for that page and turned in the project. Sophomore year ended quickly after that.

Summer, I started rereading John Green’s the Fault in Our Stars. Bam, there it was: “Hazel knows the truth: We’re as likely to hurt the universe as we are to help it, and we are not likely to do either. People will say it’s sad that she leaves a lesser scar, that fewer remember her, that she was loved deeply but not widely.” Well, John Green, I must say I wholeheartedly agree with you on this point.

The people starting foundations that do things for the common good are probably actually interested in their cause. They are also probably already rich and famous. I think in a way, starting a foundation for something is a shortcut, a cheat. Because the people the foundations are named after usually don’t do anything. (Okay maybe I’m overgeneralizing a little.) But I think the people who really deserve to be remembered and thanked are the individual people who actually reach out. Not the virtual I’ll-give-money-from-afar-kind of reach out, the real I’m-physically-here-and-I’ll-help. Money is important, but it’s not what helps people directly.

[I apologize for bad writing, but I’ve been wanting to say this for too long.]

I don’t need the whole world, or even a substantial part of it, to remember me when I die. I just want the people who knew me to remember me as someone who tried to make a little bit of the world a little better.

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