i don’t want to be remembered as funny, like a dog with a bark that you’d cleverly remark to your friends is almost human. and i don’t want to be remembered as bright, or sharp, like the blade of a curving knife twisted between teeth… i want a legacy of eager observation and humility, of knowing nods and favors done and errands run.
i’d like for my advice, if ever sought, to be sought because when given, it is built like a brave ancient fortress on the promontory — its strong walls hardy and compassionate and reasoned enough that any man may find guidance and guardianship in that courtyard. its mighty doors held open ceaselessly, so that any man may leave or return to its welcoming bones without fear of judgement or retribution.
i’d like for my heart to be a sunny little art class, a course on sculpture. where everyone who visits upon it can feel encouraged to chisel or hone or carve their name, see how they have shaped it, see how it was shaped by each comer before. each student given opportunity to see how every mistake they inflicted, be it clumsily or with cruel curious intention, was forgiven, and how it might inspire their future efforts to be patient and sure. each seasoned sculptor i meet would swell when they see how swiftly and fluidly the heart transforms, with each story they tell or lesson they impart, better and better and better each time.
i’d like my head to hold those thoughts not of a hard worker, nor a fierce wit, but those of a quiet and kind listener; a rememberer of tiny details and a guider to insight. i’d like to have it reflect that incidental sort of tidy that alchemists keep: though there may be rumblings of storms or moods or distractions that disturb the sediment of organization, i’d like to trust that every thing will settle in its rightful place.
i don’t want to be remembered by my old name, in solemn or tearful silence at a gravestone in some sprawling suburban cemetery (no matter how peaceful a resting place it might be), but rather in the holding of a slow moment under a stand of aspens, near that excited, waifish mountain brook. a moment that feels perfectly designed, as if by fate or grace or fairies, to be somewhere you can reread a beloved book. maybe soon, your mind will wander a little bit further up the trail to the summit, where you can see the fortress and the university and the alchemist’s library, and start to wonder how you’d like to be remembered.