What Will You Leave Behind After You Die?

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Freddie Mercury during the Queen At Wembley July 1986

With the recent sad passing of David Bowie and Alan Rickman, I began thinking about what life is about, the age old questions: why are we here? What is our purpose? Of course at a very basic level we have a duty to continue the human race, but I have always felt there is so much more to this question. Maintaining the human race is very basic and many of the problems we face today are caused by over-population, rather than under-population.

I have always felt that to make my life meaningful, I have to leave something behind when I depart this earth. Something tangible, something that in some small way will help future generations. People like Aristotle, Socrates, Plato, Isaac Newton and now David Bowie and Alan Rickman, they all left something behind when they passed away. For people like Aristotle, Socrates, Plato and Isaac Newton they left behind volumes of work that has educated generations for thousands of years in science and philosophy. People like Freddie Mercury, David Bowie and Alan Rickman have left us with a huge body of work that has developed our culture, our artistic and creative understanding. Their work will live on long in to the future. When I look around and see kids today who are familiar with and understand artists like Van Gogh, Beethoven and Shakespeare, I know these great artists left us a legacy. Their work lived on long past their deaths. That is my inspiration. The work I create today I want to live on. I feel it is my duty, as a human, to contribute to future generations, whether that be through educational teaching or writing, or culturally through art, music, graphic design or paint.

My biggest fear is leaving nothing behind after I die. I fear being just a name on a stone in an overgrown graveyard year after year decaying. It’s that fear that drives me. I read about people like Ian Fleming who sadly died when he was 56 years old, and see what he left us. The James Bond stories and the movies. A real celebration of a short life, he left us a legacy that has entertained many millions of people, people like me who was not even a twinkle in my father’s eye when he died In 1964.

The other evening, I watched a YouTube video of Queen at Wembley in 1986. There was Freddie Mercury strutting around on stage, singing in that unmistakably powerful voice. The connection he had with the audience, the smile, the moustache, the interaction with Brian May, the way he danced with the mic stand and played the piano. It was all there. It was as if he was still with us. And that was a moment, a concert that will live on. An incredible piece of work created thirty years ago this year.

Creating something, no matter how big or small is what I have to do. It is never going to be about how many “likes” I get, or retweets or how many books I sell. It’s about creating something that will endure past my sell-by date. Carl von Clausewitz, wrote the book “On War” in the 1820s, he never published the book in his lifetime, yet after his wife published the book posthumously shortly after his death, it became a seminal work that is still in print and studied today by military academies.

My posts on Medium are part of the journey, perhaps most of them will get lost in the ether of the Internet and will never resurface. David Bowie wrote over 700 songs during his four decades in the music industry. He will be remembered for perhaps 25 of those. Most will be lost through time, but the ones that really hit the cultural button will endure. Songs like “A Space Oddity”, “Heroes” and my favourite “Under Pressure” will live on for many, many years to come and will in their own way teach future generations the culture of today. And that is how I want it to be. I hope I have many, many more years left because I have a lot to do, a lot I want to pass on to future generations, in my writing of blog posts and books and in the videos I produce now and into the future.

My dream is that in the year 2416, kids in middle school will be studying my work, my writing and presenting an analysis to their teachers and professors. What they say and what they think doesn’t matter. What matters is my work endured, it survived the test of time and will be still relevant in some way in 2416.

So I ask you to join me in producing something for our future generations. For the people that come after us. Write, produce, create and publish. Don’t be a forgotten name. We all have unique abilities, insights and ideas. We all have ideas, stories and art inside us. Share them! And remember:

you will regret the things you didn’t do, not the things you did do.

I help people learn to manage their lives and their time so they can experience joy and build a life they are truly proud of. www.carlpullein.com

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