100 years from now, your great grandchildren will probably struggle to remember your name. Except for some internet archive somewhere, a picture of you probably won’t even exist. And, just about everything that you worked hard to produce in your toil under the sun will have long since vanished.
Kinda depressing to think about to some degree. And it’s depressing because we want our lives to matter. We want our lives to be filled with a sense of purpose. I think we all want to leave some sort of stamp or impression on this world that long outlives us. We want to be remembered, and to “leave a legacy.”
Some of us may have the opportunity to do things for which we are remembered. But for the vast majority of us, as one preacher I heard say once, 15 minutes after our bodies hit the ground, someone is going to ask someone else to pass the bucket of fried chicken. And that will pretty much be it.
Such is the destiny of probably just about everyone that’s ever been born. And if you dwell on this long enough, it might just create an existential crisis in your life.
So, how do we leave a mark on this world? How do we do things that last? How do we leave a legacy?
Accomplishments Devoid Of Meaning
First, let’s talk about the Guinness World Records.
Their world records they’ve recorded are numerous. According to Guinness, they have recorded over 40,000 world records! Which sounds amazing to think about at first glance!
But as you skim through most of what is considered a “world record,” you kinda notice a common theme. Most of these “world records” are just stupid, and don’t really mean all that much.
For example, consider Otto the skateboarding bulldog who broke the record for skateboarding through the longest human made tunnel, consisting of… WOW… 30 people! Good job Otto! You really did it! A-mazing! (Sarcasm)
Or consider Ashrita Furman, who holds the Guinness World Record for breaking the most Guinness World Records. He’s broken 600 world records, but presently only holds 200 of them! He’s noted for a huge breadth of categories and an assortment of talents, varying from expeditions up the side of Mount Fuji by pogo stick, to ambitious pursuits like spinning insanely large hula hoops around his body.
Cool stuff. And undoubtedly impressive. There’s something transcendent about it all. Maybe even something a little inspiring.
But in the grand scheme of things, I’m not sure any of these milestones means all that much, and nobody really cares all that much about any of them.
Because they are devoid of a greater purpose. They involve categories and world records that exist for no other reason than to have “the most” of something in that particular category.
Accomplishments Infused With Meaning
Accomplishments mean nothing unless they are attached to a sense of purpose.
For example, if I went outside and dunked a basketball, that would be quite the accomplishment. Especially considering I’m only 5’10” and am a bit on the husky side. It would be a YouTube worthy video, and something I’d probably talk about for a while.
In the grand scheme of things, me dunking a basketball wouldn’t mean all that much of anything. But give the same basketball to a Michael Jordan type figure, and all of a sudden dunking a basketball means something, and takes on a greater significance.
And why is that? Because if I dunk a basketball, it wouldn’t have any greater purpose in my life. It’d be nothing more than a magic trick, or an act of showmanship.
But, Michael Jordan dunking a basketball is something more than magical. It’s done with a greater sense of purpose. Michael Jordan dunks basketballs in order to help win basketball games and championships, and to make a lot of money selling shoes for Nike. And in the process, he changed how a game was played, and how business was done.
Here’s but a few of Michael Jordan’s many accomplishments:
- Ten scoring titles — an NBA record and seven consecutive matching Wilt Chamberlain
- Retired with the NBA’s highest scoring average of 30.1ppg
- Rookie of the Year
- Five-time NBA MVP
- Six-time NBA champion
- Six-time NBA Finals MVP
- Ten-time All-NBA First Team
- Nine time NBA All-Defensive First Team
- Defensive Player of the Year
- 14-time NBA All-Star
- Three-time NBA All-Star MVP
- 50th Anniversary All-Time Team
- Hall of Fame inductee
Along the way, all those slam dunks and those shots added up to something. It meant accomplishing scoring titles, being showered with awards, and winning champions. People remember those dunks, not only because they were amazing demonstrations of athletic prowess such as had never been seen before, but because it moved the proverbial needle. It changed everything.
Therefore, every milestone behind his legendary career in the NBA means something, because it took place in a greater context. It was something more than just an individual achievement.
Leaving A Legacy That Lasts
There’s a lot of talk these days about “leaving a legacy.” And much of it, I simply feel like rolling my eyes at.
Many who use this phrase use it because they are arrogant men who want to build monuments for themselves. They’ve done everything they can to build an image of themselves for people to worship, and they want people to continue to worship that image long after they are gone.
Such is not the type of legacy I’m talking about. Real legacy isn’t about you. It’s about the gift you leave behind to be passed down to future generations.
Consider the man who invented the wheel. Or, the person who discovered fire. And, then there are the people that discovered farming. Can you tell me their names? Who were they, and when did they make these amazing technological leaps that forever changed mankind?
We don’t know. History long ago stopped whispering their names. Yet the gifts they left behind for all of humanity to share in has not been forgotten. Their legacy— THEIR GIFT, their contribution, continues to endure.
And why is this? Because their accomplishment meant something in a greater context. What they did went beyond setting personal goals for themselves and achieving something worthy to be kept in the Guinness World Records book. They were like Michael Jordan, they changed the way the game was played, and the world was better for it.
(Self Reflection: The Milestones Of This Podcast)
With today being my 100th podcast episode for Jimmy’s Table Podcast, I got to thinking about the issues surrounding purpose, milestones, and legacies. I’ve been reflecting on my own accomplishments with this podcast, and what that means in the grand scheme of things.
I’ve been looking to foster conversations about the intersection of faith, life, and culture. My hope is to create content that is thought provoking, and that shines some light of understanding on issues that I care about. Issues that I hope you will also care about, and that in sharing my thoughts on these issues, you’ll find ways to transform your life and the life of those around you.
100 episodes in, this podcast has been downloaded over 3,600 times. That’s not much as far as podcasts go. I’m probably never going to achieve a Joe Rogan level of following. And while this podcast doesn’t have a lot of downloads, this podcast has been listened to in over 50 countries around the world!
Which I think is pretty cool. It’s most downloaded in United States, but I have quite a few folks that listen from Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Germany. And interestingly enough, it’s even listened to in places like China, and former Soviet Union states. The reach may be small, but it is certainly broad.
My podcast is mostly a monologue, however, in the last 100 episodes, I’ve managed to interview 10 different people with unique perspectives on the world. Among them was my friend and former coworker, Bill Fehr, who came on this podcast to share his life story and his career as a bike messenger in Charlotte. Shortly after recording the podcast about his life, which has now been downloaded almost 500 times, Bill Fehr passed away unexpectedly due to some unknown health issues. I was able to take his life story and present it as a gift to his wife and family.
What will these little milestones mean in the grand scheme of things? I’m not personally sure. Like you, my name will probably ultimately be forgotten one day. And, probably even sooner than I’d like.
But one thing I do know, is what I’ve been doing with this podcast has been done with a sense of purpose, and on purpose. And one day all of this may be forgotten. It will be but probably a small grain of sand floating in a a desert full of sand.
My hope is that when it’s all said and done, I will have done something that moved the needle, just a little bit. And, while I’m unlikely to invent the next wheel, maybe this labor of love will be transformed into a gift that endures. And long after my name is no longer whispered, hopefully my voice will in some way be at least a distant echo.