Recently I just read an interesting book titled “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” by Mark Manson. Actually, I didn’t read the book, I listened to it on Audible and to be honest it wasn’t that good. If you got through the first and last chapters then you pretty much got the gist of the whole book. Essentially, it’s a book about values and what’s truly important and letting go of the useless distractions in life. Not the first time I’ve read or listened to this concept. Manson just has a way of using vulgarity to attract readers, which is why I gave it a shot. So, kudos to the author!
Now this isn’t a review about the book, even though I used up the first paragraph to talk about it. No, this is about something that Mr. Manson brought up in the last chapter. Again, if you skip to the end you can save yourself from a bunch of mindless filler. [By the way Mr. Manson, Ringo Starr did not want to write songs like Yellow Submarine, John and Paul wrote it for Ringo to sing. It was probably a joke but it worked. I don’t like when people write bogus information about the Beatles. They were only the greatest band in the world with countless books and documentaries provided about their career. I sincerely apologize for the digression.]
Towards the very end of the book Manson brought up an anthropologist and interdisciplinary by the name of Ernest Becker who died in 1974 of cancer at the young age of fifty. I’ve heard his name used in philosophy and sociology books but I never realized the importance of his claims. While he was bed ridden for the last few years of his life he contemplated death and wrote an interesting book about the subject appropriately titled “The Denial of Death.”
In Becker’s book, he describes a theory he called the “immortality projects.” He believed that there are two parts that make up a person, the physical body which will inevitably die and the symbolic part of us that we hope will live on. Something that will outlast our time here on earth. This gives us the belief that our lives have significance and a purpose in the grand scheme. It’s not so much the meaning of life but what brings meaning to our individual lives. It's what motivates us to do what we do and live our lives to the fullest. It compels us to create legacies that we hope to leave behind once our bodies cease to exist?
So, now that I'm the ripe old age of let’s just say middle age-ish, this part of Mark Manson’s book got me thinking. Actually, I’ve been thinking about this but it wasn’t until Manson introduced me to Becker’s concept that it painted a clearer picture. Now I understand why some people become politicians, why some people take to religion, and why some people join the military. They want to be part of something that will outlast them on earth. It gives them meaning. Also, these immortality projects leave behind a legacy, again something that will outlast us. As I get older I contemplate the legacy or legacies I hope to leave behind, what can I put my name on, should I write a book, should I start a business in hopes that it’s successful enough to continue on, what motivates me?
The first legacy that I would like to leave behind are my children. To me being a good father is both challenging and motivating. Always mentoring and always trying to lead by example. Hopefully if they decide to raise a family, they’ll continue mentoring and leading their children to be good people and thus the legacy continues. Especially if they use the same tactics that I’ve used in my illustrious fathering career. However, as much as I enjoy being a dad, I would also like to leave behind some other legacies, but what? Maybe I will write that book(s), start that business, or start a new rock band, write a hit album, and tour North America. Yeah, probably not that third one.
Please share your immortality project? What legacies will you leave behind?
Brian Lundgren is a marketing professional, musician, and family man living in the Southeast region of Massachusetts.