Everyday we read about other people’s deaths in the newspapers – but most of the time the news concerns nameless persons we never really care about. We shrug our shoulders and think, well, that’s life. But once in a while, though, perhaps due to the overexposure by the media, the deaths of celebrities make us pause and take more than a moment to reflect on our own mortality. At least in the case of celebrities, the outpouring of grief gets to be seen by millions of viewers – by highlighting their deaths they become larger than life and effectively seal their own immortality, or something close to it.
More than the death that necessarily punctuates our existence on this planet, it does make one wonder what in life would be worth remembering by others. Surely we all have our own tastes of immortality, albeit at different scales. Sometimes I wished I had taken a different career – something in line with social service, perhaps, or something in line with the arts. Artists, like my Dad, can leave their works and legacies behind. Who cares about scientists? Unless you were someone like Sir Isaac Newton, inventing calculus while yet a teenager – it seems pretty difficult to leave a lasting imprint that would be remembered by many. Heck, I wonder if somebody who doesn’t have an interest in science would even “know” who Newton was. At least Einstein and Galileo were popularized somewhat.
I remember how often Daddy would tell us about the books that he was writing. At one time he boasted that he was writing three books simultaneously. The books never saw print, but one thing was impressed on me – leave something behind, no matter how big or small it is. I wonder if I will ever be able to write a book in my lifetime – although right now I am planning to write a chapter in a scientific volume. It is a start.
Not everybody can write a book, nor produce a painting or any work of art – but there is a far more enjoyable and thrilling way to leave your legacy behind. Can you guess it?
Children, of course. Passing on your genes to the next generation will be your best bet to sealing your immortality.