What do you want to be remembered for?

Back in April, before I left India, a friend shared an interview about a man named John Malloy. There are few words in my vocabulary that I can think to describe the essence of who John Malloy is. We spent only a day together, but I was profoundly impacted by our day together. I spent the day with him in Santa Clara where he hosted three circles, two of which occur regularly each Tuesday when the school year begins.

I was fortunate to be there at the beginning of the school year. Our first circle, a young men’s circle was the first of the day and within the first circle, I could feel the fullness of the silence in the room. I can only imagine what the circle will feel like at the end of the school year.

In the last circle, a parent support group, I found myself with about 8 other individuals, many of which John has known for years, maybe even decades. Through the three hours, John asked a couple of questions and the one which struck a chord the most was What do you want to be remembered for?

It isn’t a question I’ve never thought about. Earlier this year my friend told my about a eulogy exercise she once did during a retreat. In this exercise you write about the three things you would like someone to say about you at your funeral.

I got me thinking so I sat down with my journal and began writing things down.

It’s a little morbid, but it puts the different parts of your life into perspective. I thought about the things my parents would say, my sisters, and some close friends. I thought about the generic stuff and the stuff that only people close to me knew. My parents know me more than anyone in the world, but I couldn’t really think about they would say exactly.

It was hard getting through the exercise without full out sobbing, especially when you imagine each and every person you love standing up there to talk about you.

I think the point of writing this is because I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on the work that I want to accomplish in my life. I’ve thought a lot about how I want to touch lives, just as millions of others have thought about. I’ve felt the emptiness of the things that are sometimes perceived as equating to happiness and felt the fullness of tiny things that are often overlooked.

The heaviness and confusion of life can sometimes take a toll. It can also lead us to a darker place. I’ve been there once before and in retrospect I understand why I got there. I stopped being grateful and I don’t mean the grateful where we say thank you for the things we receive. I mean the amount of gratitude we hold for everything and everyone in our lives, big or small.

Sometimes there are days like today where I forget to be grateful and feel overburdened by my to do list. Just this morning, I felt the words “I don’t have time” entering my mind and immediately caught myself. The toxicity of those words have the power of turning simple tasks for the benefit of oneself or for a loved one into an excuse.

As we dive into the thick of our busy lives, “I don’t have time” begins to pour relationships and the things that are best for us. Looking at our eulogy exercise, making the time for those things or people may be the only things that really matter. 


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Rina PatelComment