What do we leave behind us?
I’m not talking about leftover food or dirty laundry. I mean what happens when we’re gone?
Twenty years ago, if I died unexpectedly, the things I left behind would have been quite different than today. I would have left behind scribbles and scraps and other people’s memories. Old term papers. Half-finished diaries filled with teenage angst. Tiny, poorly focused snapshots. Someone else’s stories about me. Signatures on office documents. Everything I left was either meant for a purpose outside of my own story or never meant for other eyes. The picture of me would have been only through cobbled together images and words, eventually forgotten. Wisps of stories, memories left in time.
Now? Piles upon piles of digital trails. Tweet streams and Facebook feeds. Blog posts, Instagram photos, forum conversations and/or arguments. Tracks left behind me, tracing every step. With every tweet or comment, we write what we are going to leave behind us. Because we most assuredly will leave it behind.
All this technology has created a wealth of stories, stories we never would have found 20 years ago. Stories that make us laugh or cry or catch our breath. Words that teach us and surprise us and make us better people.
We leave traces behind every moment. We get to write our own legacies, even though with every day and every tweet and every throwaway glib comment, that’s not what we think we’re doing. But in the end, it is. In some ways, it’s all we’re doing.
What we’ve left is what we’ve chosen to put out there. What have you chosen?
Think about it. Really think about it. If you are gone tomorrow, or even in 20 years, what are you writing or doing or publishing today? Someday, someone will read it. What will they learn about you?
I never met Amanda. I didn’t even follow her until it was too late. Which teaches me: Pay more attention.
I debated whether to make this video, and debated more whether to post it. It’s not my story to tell, and I don’t know if Amanda would have wanted it told this way. But ultimately, I’ve chosen to publish it as a tribute to her, and a reminder to all of us: sometime, we will leave it behind.
I have attempted to find Amanda’s full name in order to contact her family to let them know about this project. I have been unable to find any further information. If you have any information on Amanda, please leave me a comment or contact me at zchamu at gmail.
I want to thank Amanda for sharing her story with us. I’m just the messenger.
Music: Let Her Go by Passenger. Tweets: Amanda @TrappedAtMyDesk.
My challenge to you for 2014: Look at what you’ve left behind. What is your legacy?
I write some more at zchamu dot com. Come visit.
More from living