Death is central in my life philosophy, and unfortunately, two untimely deaths – juxtaposed – were the inspiration for the creation of our company, Legaci, and the LegaciLife application.
The first tragedy was an outdoor recreational accident in 2011 – a light from my childhood community taken from us at just 19 years old. Her personality was more bubbly than New Year’s champagne, which, sadly, would never touch her lips. The sheer number of people this fireball touched with her huge heart and effervescence was astounding. For years, people would pour their memories into her social media accounts, keeping a fire alive in the forefront of our minds, maintaining her presence and the appreciation for a radiant smile that could melt the Big Horn snowcaps…
The second was an auto accident in 2017, a mutual acquaintance, just 22 years old. Though I did not know him personally, I wanted a glimpse into his life. His social media had several scrolls worth of stories and condolences from friends. His obituary was a very sweet two paragraphs outlining his academic and athletic participation as well as a few hobbies that were accompanied by a short picture slide show. However, the social media presence waned over time – maybe due to less overall online activity or perhaps a difference in size of social circles. The salience, unfortunately, dwindled rapidly.
These two untimely deaths sickened me, as it did many others, and I couldn’t shake how much life was left on the table; how much life was truly experienced in their short existences but couldn’t be properly recognized. There had to be a better way to carry these souls with us.
“Our dead are never dead to us, until we have forgotten them.”-George Eliot (Mary Anne Evans)
This quote eats at me, for the responsibility to bear the torch of remembrance falls on those who witnessed the light before it faded to black. The unfortunate truth is that the number and radiance of the torches can be quantified.
In a culture that values the mantra, “All Men are created equal…”, we live in a reality where all Men are not equally remembered…
This reality will never change. There will always be a discrepancy between the sizes of legacies left behind. The longer an individual exists, the more opportunity they have to leave their mark on the planet, and, more importantly, leave their mark on others. Herein lies the conundrum. We have more tools than ever to capture the world around us. However, the size of the legacy we leave is directly correlational to our exposure to other humans. This overwhelmingly favors older age as well as extroverted tendencies, and more so those who are on the extreme end of the spectrum – those whom we crown our celebrities.
This dynamic was painfully on display when Kobe Bryant passed away in a helicopter accident. Nine people perished, but the spotlight of remembrance was correlational to their public exposure. Kobe’s brilliance on the basketball court, coupled with the context of his fierce approach to the game, gave him the monumental stage that earned fans across the globe. This stage was magnified by the age of instantaneous hand-held internet and obsession with topical media.
Aside from Kobe’s monumental exposure, there was another aspect that made his passing sting. Kobe was very visibly on the cusp of something special, as he had his sights set on goals that very much parallel my own: to leave a positive impact on the next generation. As a father, mentor and storyteller, Kobe was channeling his fierce drive toward the empowerment of others.
Human nature favors inertia, and to see this boulder stop in its tracks, never to hit the pond and release its potential energy, robbing countless ripples of reaching faraway shores – this was the biggest blow to many.
“They had their whole life ahead of them.”
This sting of potential energy unrealized is universal. It is precisely why death at a young age is so devastating – the ultimate opportunity cost. The size of one’s legacy should not have to be so strongly correlated with age or extroverted habits. The true problem is not potential energy unrealized (for untimely death is out of our hands), but potential energy unrecognized.
People of all ages – but especially young people – have blueprints of a reality that only exists in their minds. So much of our identity is tied to these blueprints. When someone passes, these blueprints are lost forever. We only see what was already built – or at the very least – already documented. Furthermore, anything that was merely verbalized is subject to the fragility of the human memory, leaving the chance for altering a past reality…leaving information in the realm of hearsay.
Our life, our perception of reality and the reality we actually create and leave behind, are incredibly high-stakes. Every interaction we have with friends, family, colleagues, strangers – with other humans across every medium of human expression – define who we are, as does our belief systems, our plans for the future, how deep and meaningful our relationships are with others, our life philosophy, and what we hope to see in others. When we die, every thought and construct of our mind is now in the hands of those still living, subject to how THEY retell the story of our LIFE…
When we tell a story of historical events, it helps to have references, to keep everything consistent. Maybe we reference other people who were there – witnesses, maybe photos/videos or historical text. This can apply to world history or the fiasco that happened while we were out last weekend.
Human communication of the past isn’t rocket science – we simply use the tools at our disposal to try to accurately recall events. Sometimes we nail it, the room erupts with laughter, tears are shed, there’s deep shared acknowledgement. However, sometimes we get the details wrong or we’re more amused than everyone else, we’re unavoidably subjective, or we seem to be the only ones who really care.
Frequently in life it boils down to “you had to be there”.
When we are there, how do we capture the moment, how we appreciate it? How do we define “there”? In this context, “there” is the not only a physical location, “there” can be a moment of consciousness, a thought involving someone else, and future plan – a diagram on the blueprint. This is where we are missing tools, leaving entire chunks of our perceived reality on the table, inaccessible to those who care, to those who want to love and cherish every aspect of who we are.
Hence the origin of LegaciLife. We are on a mission to develop robust tools to help capture the blueprints, make them accessible to those who care, recognize the potential energy. In the process, we hope to increase our appreciation of those around us while they are still living.
If we can better capture the soul, we can better carry the soul.
Come join us on our mission.