June 8, 2013

Earlier this week I was struck by Matt Gemmell writing a moving article about an incident in his life that spawned a need to write and leave a legacy.

Eleanor and candle

What troubles me is a compulsion to contribute something enduring, that can speak of me when I’m not there. It’s difficult to do that in my line of work (making software).

This is a common dilemma and so many great writers have written about it in so many better ways than I ever could…

“Everyone must leave something behind when he dies . . . Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die . . . It doesn’t matter what you do, so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that’s like you after you take your hands away.”
― Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

Sitting here on a Saturday morning I’m writing this in my notebook after biopsies taken for a probably-not-but-could-be serious condition that’s pretty common in middle-aged men. Cancer. I find myself thinking; what will I leave behind?

I’m getting to that age that the chance of a serious illness is increasing but basically I’m fine.

Thinking back to the legacy that I was left by my parents (it was certainly not financial) it was the experiences that led to me getting an education. Like Mr Kinnock, I was encouraged to learn and was the first member of my extended family to ever have the chance to go to university. I’ve benefited enormously from my upbringing.

What do I want my legacy to be? I want my kids to be fine without me. Confident, creative, individuals with some good memories of their parents. Probably nothing more than that because I think coping with loss is a sign of a good relationship. For the rest — financial security security, happiness — we’re in Philip Larkin territory.


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