Family is not the most important thing. It’s everything.

Michael J. Fox

When this life is all said and done, what’s left.  What will we leave behind when we go. I guess most of us want to leave a piece of ourselves.  Maybe some investments, a house, some contribution, perhaps even a statue. That would be sweet.  However, that is not going to happen, is it? No one is erecting any statues, do we do that anymore. I see more figures coming down than I see them going up.  

Call it a fixation on what’s tangible and what isn’t, but I can’t let it go. We are so limited by our infatuation with the physical world that we discount the untouchable side of life.  Life, real life lies in the intangibles — love, hate, anger, compassion, shame, wonder, amazement. The world is how we feel, not what we touch.  Most of the things we touch are for a reason, because of how they make us feel emotionally.

We live to accumulate wealth and power all to elicit emotions within ourselves.  What a selfish use of our precious energy. As we foolishly waste all of our energy to bolster our emotional addictions, we lose the opportunity to leave any real legacy for ourselves.  

Where do you work?  Are you on track to be the CEO?  I would say no because you wouldn’t have time to read this!  Moreover, if you are, are you the next Steve Jobs, Zuckerburg, Welch, Buffett?  You are not. Therefore the impact and legacy that you will have in your career are so insubstantial it deserves no mention at all.  You are not even a footnote. Nothing. You will toil, and you will leave behind nothing.

If you make a boatload of money and leave it to your family that would be great though right?  The average inheritance, however, is around $177,000. I am not sure whom that statistic is talking about, because I have seen quite a few people die, and I have never seen anywhere near that amount left behind.  That could be because I am black, and wealth in our community is not right, but IDK. Probate is a mother, especially without any financial education, something most are lacking, especially concerning trusts and other complicated financial instruments.  So there is the possibility that you could leave behind some inheritance, I just hope you have some business education because it doesn’t just get passed like a baton. Only extremely wealthy people are winning this relay race. Just out of curiosity, would you rather leave behind a statue, or $200K?  You can’t eat a bust, or can you?

What did any great person ever leave behind?  What did your Grandmother, Grandfather, Mother, Father, Friend, Son, Daughter; what did they leave behind? Was it valuable? Because of how much it was worth, or because of what it was worth to you? Was it even a thing, or was it an idea, a feeling, a belief, a legacy of being.  No person with a heart ever loved the money or property that someone left them as an inheritance. What we love is the person. What we cherish is the person they were. When we walk through their house when they are gone, we don’t think about what we can do with the place.  We think about them. They are what matters. Who cares about the tangible things they left behind, they are no longer here, and all we want to touch is them. However, we can’t, and no dollar amount is going to make that ok. No fine china, no fur coat, no car, nothing is going to make missing them ok.  When you hold their diary in your hand, and you feel the pages between your fingers, what we hope to feel is an emotion.

The only people in this world that you can depend on are your family, and you don’t have to be blood to be family.  Our families are the only people who can and will erect monuments in our name. They are the only ones who care enough about us to honor us in that way, eternally.  Ha, your job. They don’t give a damn about you. I shouldn’t say that, that’s not true. They do care about you until they don’t, that’s the problem. There is no contract when it comes to family.  It’s for life, and it is unconditional. Even when you screw up horribly you don’t get fired. A family adds it to your file, but over time it becomes diluted because of all the right things you do. That’s how it works.  It’s a pretty good deal.

Why then do we spend all of our finite energy trying to get strangers to erect statues of us?  It is the most ridiculous and counterproductive thing ever. We are to our family, an integral piece to a puzzle.  If that piece disappears from our life or becomes distant, it leaves a whole that remains open always. We are always and forever aware that something is missing, a piece is missing.  It’s uncomfortable, and it hurts, forever. Irreplaceable is not what we are to strangers, to co-worker, employees, bosses, acquaintances. We are there for a time, that is all. When we are gone, they notice, for a while, and then they don’t.  That’s it. They insert another friend or employee and boom, problem solved. No smelting needed, not even a plaque with your name. The one that was, nope, nothing.

Our monuments are built at home with our families.  No one will create one for us except them. Some of the most well-known names of our time will be reduced to footnotes.  That’s right, even the greats become footnotes. So what does that make you and I? Steve Jobs will be a footnote, Donald Trump will be a very big fat footnote.  However, what we can be in our own families is a legend. Our time here on earth with our families determines the impact of our monument, and we can be confident one will be built.  The questions are who will visit that statue, and what will they say?

To the world, most peoples contributions will be unbelievably insignificant.  Let me say I applaud and root for those whose contributions are significant.  Those who successfully push for substantial changes to our current systems, solving hunger, violence, I welcome you.  However, most are just told their contribution will be significant, they won’t. If even Noam Chomsky for example, is pushed to the fringes, applications for intelligible contributions to society have halted.

MLK, Elvis, Baldwin, Emerson, many of these names have been upheld by their families.  Please do not be mistaken it is certainly possible these figures would have been footnoted had it not been for their families support.  Why, because society does not care about you, any more than your employer. They care about you while you are alive, and only to the extent that you can generate profit.  Even our most brilliant academics have been reduced to making a profit. Sad. I get it that no one wants to die without being remembered, but the most direct route to becoming nothing, not even a memory is forsaking your family for anything or anyone else.  You are a commodity to just about everyone, except your family.

WHOOOOOOOOO! We have fallen far. We came from the desert, without a morsel of food, only our family and our faith. Now we leave our families in the desert alone well fed, while we chase a mirage of power and gold.  God help us.

Written by A.C.

Father, Writer, Master Gardener, Photographer, Entrepreneur, Adventurer, know it all.

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