Are you Willing to be Forgotten? Deer Trails, Pathways, and Highways, the real legacy of creativity.

August 22, 2022

A blog post about creativity

When you think back, how many people can you name from your past? One-hundred? Maybe five- hundred? If you included celebrities and people of influence could you maybe remember one- thousand? I imagine that most of us would struggle to remember even a couple hundred. Of those hundred, how many would remember you? In one hundred years when most of your contemporaries have passed on, how many people do you think will remember you? How many of our contemporaries, even the famous ones, will be remembered in a thousand years?

For all the immediacy of this moment, and the importance of those around us a human life rarely makes it to 100. And the human life that was lived is rarely remembered by more then another hundred or so years. Out of all the people living, very few of them will be remembered in a thousand years. It is a sobering thought. But the reality of the lived experience is that the life we live is rich and full of so much beauty, pain, boredom, and every other emotion that makes up humanity. In comparison to human history, our life can seem insignificant, but when it is lived and felt within our own skin it is all encompassing.

I have often walked into a bookstore or library and looked at all the books that surround me and think, “The world doesn’t need another book. Will any of these books be remembered or read in a hundred years?” As I paint or work on creating photos, I can have a similar thought. What is the point of creating if it is not to be remembered? As I lean into this question I have found such richness that spurs me forward.

As you drive along a road or a highway in your neighbourhood, have you ever thought about how that road came to be? It probably started as a thoroughfare that was used by animals to travel from water hole to places of safety. Eventually it was walked enough that it became a path. The path became a road. A road became a highway. A highway became a freeway. As we drive along pathed roads, we probably don’t think about all the feet that walked that road before it became the pathed freeway of today. The roads of our life are simply the easiest societal structure that connect us with people and places. Yet at some point in time, footsteps, whether man or animal, laid the path first.

We create not because we will be remembered. We create because ideas have immeasurable life spans. Our thoughts and ideas create deer trails that others will travel long after we are forgotten. We examine the thought roads that we already travel on and if we find them faulty, it is the creators who fix them, or divert traffic into new directions.

The legacy of your creativity is not you, it is your ideas. Are you willing to be forgotten? Are you willing to let your ideas become bigger than you and have a life of their own? Are you willing to create work that may not be for this generation, but the next? Are you willing to let your legacy be found outside of your own timeline? Many great artist, writers, and thinkers were not appreciated until immemorial. Their work was for a subsequent generation. 

Your success and your legacy has nothing to do with fame. You may be forgotten, but your ideas can be eternal. 

2 thoughts on “Are you Willing to be Forgotten? Deer Trails, Pathways, and Highways, the real legacy of creativity.”

    • It’s an encouraging perspective for me to Elaine! Growing up in the “you can do anything” generation, made it seem that the only good life was an extraordinary one. ‘Ideas can be eternal’ takes the pressure off of having to be memorable.


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