Scottish poet and essayist Alexander Smith once wrote, "I would rather be remembered by a song than by a victory. I would rather build a fine sonnet than have built St. Paul's." I've spent time — and I hope you have, too — thinking about what I want my legacy to look like. How do I want to be remembered?
Some people just want to be rich and famous, and that's okay. I'd take sorta rich and moderately well-known if the possibility ever presented itself. But neither my happiness nor my sense of worth is tied up with fame or wealth.
More important to me is finding happiness and living a meaningful life. I want to enjoy the time I have here, and when I'm gone, I want my life and my work to have meant something to someone. My daily life is a constant struggle after those goals.
In my most far-reaching dreams, I imagine someone thinking of me and saying, "I'm a better writer because of him." Or someone else who has read my work saying, "I'm a better human being because I read what he wrote." And that is ultimately how I will judge the meaningfulness of my life.
What about you? Fifty or a hundred years from now, when people talk about you, what do you want them to say? In what situations would you want your name and your work brought up?
What mark do you want to leave in the world? And what are you doing now to make that mark?
In the same work, Alexander Smith also wrote, "To be occasionally quoted is the only fame I care for." It makes me feel good that I can do this little service for him.