There are hints in our oldest records, even those only verbally passed from generations before us, that eternal life is possible.
Yet there is, and always has been, a race to accumulate wealth beyond any personal ability to spend it.
The constant example of our modern age is to turn to philanthropy at that point in life. You see it with some of the richest – Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, and others. Older examples such as John D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie exist. Some, like Henry Ford, left their fortunes in the hands of boards as Foundations to continue their charity.
And these are the exceptional few. Only 5% have this mentality.
95% of this planet’s population never make a decent enough income to ever worry about giving it all away. Those are the people who buy into the traps and sillinesses of the culture. And so they die a little bit, day by day. The illness they have is conformity.
We are surrounded by truly horrible, death-dealing information. Our “news” tends to show the tip of this iceberg. And they are in bed with our politicians, who keep their job by taking “donations” in return for “considering” their votes, so that they can finance and run campaigns to remain in office.
The battle is said to be about how to help the most people keep their jobs. This is where one “party” is different from the other. But practically, they are all the same party. They are all working for the 95% and letting the 5% slide. Because that 5% creates the jobs for the rest of everyone.
If you’ve followed this blog for any period of time, you see that the idea of having to have a job is a silly one. In our day and age, there is no reason to work for anyone, unless you really love the work you are doing. Otherwise, you can create your own job. And that job can finance a lifestyle which isn’t tied down to any one location – unless you want it that way.
Most people are only working at cheating death. They “know” they are only their bodies, and that when that life span is over, they extinguish like the flame of a candle.
But if you’d study our oldest surviving philosophies, you’d find this wasn’t true.
Take writing for example. Where authors are truly prolific and devotes themselves to decades of production, their works live on forever. A list of the million-book authors on Wikipedia, who have published at least a million books into circulation, shows their average output to be 166 books. And these are usually novels. Some like Asimov and William Wallace Cook (author of PLOTTO) have published way north of that, having at least 500 books to their credit. The author behind the pen name of Max Brand is yet another.
So we know these authors without ever having met them in person.
Other people are known by their lifetime of charitable works. Sister Theresa for one.
Because you don’t have to create a fortune to make a difference, to leave a legacy.
The truly great people you know that have lived through history have one thing in common, and it’s not money.
They are among the 5% who kicked over the conventional wisdom surrounding them and acted to help solve the greater problems facing all of humanity. Consider George Washington Carver. His research into soybeans and other plants truly enabled people he would never meet to live better lives. And by his example, he did more to forward the cause of post-racial society than any number of our current protesters.
It’s the point of legacy.
Dean Wesley Smith, himself the author of over a hundred novels, has studied the area of “pulp fiction” writers. His conclusion is that the great ones wrote for at least a decade or more professionally. When the pulps gave way to inexpensive paperbacks, they supplied the market. When ebooks became the new low-cost alternative, they supplied the market. Meanwhile, their works also appeared in expensive hardbacks and everything else in between.
To leave a legacy, you have to “kick over the traces” of conventional wisdom and produce a volume of work. Obviously, your work has to be good or it won’t pay its way. The main difference between O. Henry (William Sydney Porter) and Jack London is just a few years. Henry died poor and London died well off. Both were before our modern age of being able to record our content on computers and digitally printing books which will live forever. London published at a point where the efficiencies of print made it more possible to accept more stories from authors as more people could buy the magazines.
But the main point is that Henry (Porter) missed is the difference in variety of format. While Porter was cranking out a regular short story a week for a newspaper in addition to other stories, he never moved out of the short story area. London wrote at all lengths. Another well-known prolific author was Charles Dickens. In order to support publishing his books, he wrote them as serials in a magazine he published. As well, he also launched the career of other writers by publishing them in his magazine.
To write this many words, in all these formats, you have to join the 5%.
As I cover in “The Art of Wonk”, these people don’t believe, act, or think the same way that the bulk of humankind do. They are so creative that this overwhelms the acceptable norms for the world we live in. There are many authors who are completely unknown (except perhaps to the accounting departments of Amazon) because they use pen names to contain the volume of work they are producing. In many cases, they are also following the Patterson model of coming up with so many plots that they have to hire ghostwriters (and co-writers) to execute them all.
When people have no legacy, its because of they accepted limits from the world around them.
Just that simple.
95% of the people on this planet are unknown and invisible because they choose to be that way.
Completely separate from the mystic ideas of spiritual immortality, the people who are known have accomplished this by creating greater value and sharing it with others in their lives. They do this on a massive scale.
That’s how you build a legacy.
It’s nothing to do with getting your name in print or the media as politicians and celebrities do. Celebrities are mostly temporarily known for the few bestselling movies they’ve produced. A volume of work. Earl Nightingale called this a “river of interest.” He pointed out Mickey Rooney as a stellar example of someone who continued to work as an actor from vaudeville and stage acting to movies and to our modern blockbusters. Another great actor along this line was Henry Fonda.
Politicians who worry about “leaving a legacy” after only 8 years in office are fakes. That’s not a legacy, that’s a blip in history.
Celebrities who become politicians by spouting their views instead of entertaining become blips in history.
Be creative and create a body of work. This is why Michelangelo and DaVinci are known today, while most of the artists they worked with aren’t.
To do that, you have to kick over conventional wisdom and give great value to the people around you. The Sistine Chapel ceiling and the Mona Lisa are works which endure because they inspire. A value that transcends time.
It’s not achieved through snarky “tweets” or posting cute cat pictures. Or even holding a news-reading job for years with a media corporation on TV.
It’s achieved by continually and consistently giving great value to the world around you. You improve people’s lives by giving them greater choice.
Just quit listening so much to the world around you and start listening to your own heart.
The critical snipers are dying, bit by bit, day after day. They will never be known for anything. The few who know their bliss and follow their dreams, creating a lifetime of good, valuable works – these are the ones who live forever.
Also published on Medium.