Monday, September 08, 2008

Exercise of the Week: Imagining Your Legacy

This exercise answers the question: "How do I want to be remembered?" When I was teaching, I assigned it in tandem with my "Imagine You're Ninety" exercise. (See my 8/18/08 posting.) In essence, you're writing your epitaph. Sound morbid? Just try it. I think you'll find it an enlivening challenge.

  • Once again, imagine that you're 90, taking your last breath.
  • What would you hope to have inscribed on your tombstone?
Here are some examples my students came up with:
  • Honesty - Integrity - Humanity
  • A Teacher to the End
  • Pioneering Scientist & Physician
  • A Friend to Nature & All Living Things
  • Loving Husband - Caring Father - Loyal Friend
What's the objective? Whatever you set out to accomplish in life, you don't want to lose your humanity in the process. This exercise helps you keep focused on what's most important to you.

Note: Pictured above is my dad's tombstone.


  1. Did you know that you can get coffins made of cardboard. Presumably they're for the very poor but I figure they were made for writers. I'd like one with a happy funeral where my friends come by and leave their own written epitaphs a la our high school yearbooks on the coffin. After they've penned their missives (to heck with mine!) they file off to laughter and lots of soul music from the Neville Brothers! That's my dream. I love it. And, of course, it's FRUGAL. LOL.

    Carolyn Howard-Johnson

  2. I love this blog.

    It's amazing how putting things down on paper clarifies our goals and desires for us, isn't it?

    And it may sound strange, but I liked the photo of your father's tombstone!

  3. Leaving my legacy became so important to me about 3 years ago. I'm so glad I took time out of my life to discover what matters to me and am now living it. So, what would I want my legacy to be?
    That I loved animals deeply and shared their inspiring, invaluable lessons with mankind, thus bringing more peace to our world.

  4. I love ALL of these comments! Carolyn, you made me smile with your frugal funeral idea; Terry you made my day--so glad you're enjoying the blog and weren't offended by my dad's tombstone; and Barbara, what a lovely legacy!