I think a lot of people want to be remembered after they’re gone – to have their name eternalized somehow, as an integral part of history. It’s some sort of recognition that your time on earth has not been for nothing. You’ve accomplished something and people will not forget you.
The fear of being forgotten is a very common and logical fear – we want to be remembered. One of the scariest things I can think of is that one day I’ll simply ‘disappear’ and the memory people have of me will also fade. It’s one of my darkest thoughts and it’s only reinforced by the fact that we have no idea how or when we will leave the planet (or what will happen afterwards).
“One lives in the hope of becoming a memory” – Antonio Porchia
It’s not my intention to write a dark article about death and fear of the unknown – quite the opposite. I find it a little sad that so many of us are chasing certain successes in an attempt to be forever remembered and in some way become ‘immortal’. I just wonder what happens when you get there; when you achieve that feeling which basically suggests that ‘now you can go’. You’ve done it: you’ve achieved success, fame, fortune… You’ve done what you wanted to do. So now you can die, right?
But what about the journey? What about the relationship you have with yourself? What I fear much more than being forgotten is looking back on my life and realizing I rushed through it. I very much enjoy being busy but what really frightens me is realizing a couple of weeks or months have passed and I was too preoccupied to enjoy them.
Don’t rush through life
I’m not the type to meditate, although I do enjoy yoga, but I have to admit there’s something to this whole concept of ‘mindfulness’ that is very important to live a happy life. We need to live in the moment and enjoy the ‘now’ – not just the ‘now’ we’ll achieve once we get what we want, but also the ‘right now’ which may lead us there. We rush through life to achieve something, to do great things, to not be forgotten. But what we are doing is living for something in the future, something we do not yet possess, and something we feel we need in order to be happy. What I’ve come to realize though, is that a certain event, person or thing will never make you happy. It will make you feel content and satisfied, albeit temporarily, but you won’t achieve happiness. I truly believe that. Happiness can only be achieved by a certain mental state that only you can influence.
So what I’ve come to realize more and more is that happiness is very much a state of mind and lies in your perception of your own reality. If you teach yourself to be happy right now, with what you have, it will give you so much positive energy to move forward in life. I’ve always been annoyed when people told me to ‘live in the now’ because I thought it suggested I had to accept my current reality and the fact that it would never change. That’s not at all what I’m saying though. I believe everyone can change their current situation, but it starts in your own mind. If you go through life with a fear of the unknown, or a fear of being ignored or forgotten, you will live your life in fear. It’s as simple as that. If you live your life enjoying the (small) steps you take towards a specific goal you will live a much happier life and make the same progress (if not more!).
“Dance. Smile. Giggle. Marvel. TRUST. HOPE. LOVE. WISH. BELIEVE. Most of all, enjoy every moment of the journey, and appreciate where you are at this moment instead of always focusing on how far you have to go.”
– Mandy Hale
It all comes down to what defines happiness – is it material things, certain people, or successes you achieve? For me, it’s all of those things but most importantly: it’s not limited to those things. Yes, a new phone or laptop can make me happy and I won’t apologize for it, but realizing how strong the bond between me and my siblings is makes me much happier and this feeling resurfaces all the time. Also, whenever I accomplish something I can be ecstatic with joy and pride – all directed towards myself. However small the accomplishment is, I thoroughly enjoy it, even if it doesn’t mean my name will appear on Wikipedia or the Hollywood Walk of Fame 🙂 (yet!).
While many of us rush through life towards that one great event that will change everything, we miss all the little events that occur along the way that can be so rewarding. Perhaps you won’t be remembered by millions of strangers, but your close friends and family will. And most importantly: you will have lived a happy, positive life. Life is meant to be enjoyed and that should be your main goal – not how many people will remember your name after the journey is over.