I have a minor fear of being unable to accomplish much of what I want to do due to random misfortune. By random misfortune, I mean all the things that prevent people from living normal lives: car accidents, brain aneurysms, cancer, rare diseases, development of schizophrenia, etc. I’m in reasonably good health, and it’s unlikely that any of these things happen to me any time soon, but I know it’s at least possible.
If I died tomorrow, what would be left of me? What would my legacy be? Honestly, not much. My friends and family would remember me and mourn, but after a few years, those emotional wounds would have mostly healed. I just got out of school last year, and there’s been little in the way of actual work that I’ve done that has made a noticeable impact on the world. My website and some of its content would continue to exist for some time, but only in a small, insignificant corner of the Internet. I would gradually fade into a distant memory, and the world wouldn’t look noticeably different.
Dying would mean all the thoughts, experiences, opinions, and knowledge I’ve accumulated over my 20-odd years of existence would cease to exist. Becoming mentally or physically incapacitated – say, developing a serious mental disorder, or being unable to type anymore – would make it much harder, if not impossible, for me to accomplish what I want. Worse, I might recognize it too, leaving me with the emotional burden of dealing with such an inability.
On the bright side, it’s not like I’ve had zero impact on the world: just by living life and interacting with people, I’ve already had an impact on many people in a minor way, and some in a major way – hopefully, mostly positively. No misfortune can break the long chain of consequences that will arise from things I’ve already done. Still, the vast, vast majority of the effort that has gone into building the person I am today, whether my own or through external forces, will have effectively been for nothing, if the worst-case scenario were to arise. All of these thoughts buzzing around constantly in my head – fears, aspirations, insights, experiences, knowledge – gone, forever.
Again, this fear of the tail end of negative scenarios – of drawing the worst possible cards in the deck – is minor. But it pushes me, just a little bit, to start producing now – to start making small impacts on the world, so that I get them out of the way as early as possible, in case there comes a time, sooner than I anticipate, where I can’t anymore.
This website serves, to a small extent, as a step towards building such a legacy: something that, regardless of whether I’m alive tomorrow (or next year, or in 50 years) or not, can persist and potentially impact the world in a non-trivial fashion.