It’s been a long time since I read it, but the book Fahrenheit 451 has always been one of my favorites for many reasons. I love the way Bradbury described things. The way he worked philosophy so well into his stories. The way he made me think. Looking back I think this quote had a very lasting impact on the kind of person I strive to become.
“Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you’re there.
It doesn’t matter what you do, he said, 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. The difference between the man who just cuts lawns and a real gardener is in the touching, he said. The lawn-cutter might just as well not have been there at all; the gardener will be there a lifetime.”
Part of the reason I make Art is to leave a legacy. Something that was changed or created by my hands that will stand as a testament of my existence once I’m gone. Something that my sons, my friends, and total strangers can look at and think, “He made this with his hands… It’s a part of who he was.”, or, “He followed his own vision. Did things his own way. Maybe I can do the same”. Even if only a small handful of people ever thought it… Even if it were only my sons left to remember me in this way it would be enough.
Sounds a little lofty, but that’s what goals are: A target to aim for. A mountain to climb. A legacy to leave behind. Pursue your goals with all your heart, mind, and body. Do nothing half-way.
I ask myself that question almost daily: What will your legacy be?
What will you leave behind when you’re gone to show who you were?