I read The Last Lecture today. The entire book. I did so after looking through pictures and wall posts on S Lychako’s Facebook profile. Lychako was one of my good friends my freshman year of college and he died this week, unexpectedly. It wasn’t that looking through his stuff and thinking about him randomly spurred me to read this book. It happened more so by coincidence. Pam started a book club at work and this is the first book we’re reading and while I was on Facebook, I noticed it sitting on my desk, picked it up and 206 pages later, put it down.
I am a rather unemotional person (but I am working on it and making great strides) and death is something that always makes me feel akward. I know that is an odd feeling to associate with death but because I am not good at being sad, I just feel akward at knowing I should be and not being so. Follow me?
But as I read through the wall posts people left, saying good bye in shock and in sadness, it made me really sad. It made me sad to the point that my eyes welled up in tears. Maybe if I weren’t at work, they would have made their way down.
The more annoying part of me couldn’t help but analyze the situation. I googled Lychako to see what I’d find and slowly started to try and decide what kind of legacy he was leaving behind. From his wall anyone would be able to tell he was a happy, awesome kid. I don’t think anyone would disagree with that. He was always smiling and could make anyone laugh.
So here we have Lychako, my 20-something year-old friend, leaving this world unexpectedly, with no control of the legacy he’s going to leave behind. Then enter Randy Pausch who had months to build a carefully crafted legacy made of videos, interviews, books and letters. I am not sure how to explain it but it is just wild to me. Should we have a choice in the matter?
What would my legacy look like if I was plucked out from this Earth tomorrow and I had no control of what was left beind? What would you all have to say? Have to think? What would people think when they went through my stuff? And what would it look like if I knew my exit date? What would it look like if I got to decide what pieces of me would be left behind as concrete memories? Would the legacies be the same?
I’d like to think that they would be pretty similar. But realistically, I think we all tend to look at ourselves in a better light than we actually are and given the choice, what we’d leave behind might be different than the trail we’d leave if the element of choice wasn’t there.
I am by no means trying to write a moral lesson here.. sorry. If you want to hear my lessons learned from dying, ask me about my dad and his death. I could write my own Last Lecture on that. I am merely thinking out loud about two extremes that I’ve encountered today and the irony of it all.
If I were to die unexpectedly, there are three things that would serve as the keys to remembering me as I really was, to my legacy. My gmail account, my year-end summary from American Express and my prayer book. Through those, you’d be able to find out what I did, thought and felt. Not that I’d want all of you to know all of that.
Ok, on a less somber note (somber isn’t really me), two favorite lines from the book:
Pg.16 …”my dad always taught me that when there’s an elephant in to room, introduce it.”
Pg.185 “Tell your friend that in his death, a part of you dies and goes with him. Wherever he goes, you also go. He will not be alone.”
I haven’t watched The Last Lecture yet but if you want to skip the book, here it is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ji5_MqicxSo