My friend Richard's mother used to to give him advice when he was a) up, after winning a prize or something, OR b) down, after losing. She would tell him to get a pail and fill it with water and bring it to her. Then she would tell him to thrust his fist into the water and hold it there for a few minutes, and then to take it out and look into the water, and tell her what he saw.
Nothing. He saw nothing, just a pail full of water. That, she would tell him, was how much impression he made with his little successes or failures. That's all any of us do, except maybe Shakespeare (and look what they're doing to him these days).
When Richard first told me that, I was reminded of a verse from one of W.H.Auden's so-called light poems (he didn't really write "light" poems; they were all profound, to me). This is from "As I Walked Out One Evening" (1937):
[O} Plunge your hands in the water,
Plunge them in up to the wrist.
Stare, stare in the water, [basin]
And wonder what you've missed.
(Note: I missed two words ( O and basin).
I was reporting on the arrival of my second great grandchild and I didn't mean to crow. I was actually feeling pretty humble about it, and very grateful that I have lived long enough to see another generation carrying on, though I do wonder what they will encounter in the decades to come. But Marla, what do any of us leave for posterity?
legacy noun: 1 a legacy from a great aunt had paid for their house: bequest, inheritance, heritage, bequeathal, bestowal, benefaction, endowment, gift, patrimony, heirloom, settlement, birthright, provision; Law devise, hereditament. 2 the rancorous legacy of the Vietnam war | a legacy of the British Empire: consequence, effect, outcome, upshot, spin-off, repercussion, aftermath, footprint, by-product, product, result; residue, fruits.
posterity noun: 1 the names of those who died are recorded for posterity on a framed scroll: future generations, succeeding generations, those who come after us; the future. 2 archaic: God appeared to Abraham with a promise that his posterity should inhabit the land: descendants, heirs, successors, offspring, children, family, progeny, scions; Law issue; archaic seed.
AND THAT LEADS ME TO
posterior noun: humorous her plump posterior: buttocks, behind, backside, rear, rear end, rump, seat, haunches, hindquarters, cheeks; Brit. bottom; Frenchderrière; GermanSitzfleisch; informal sit-upon, stern, BTM, tochus; Brit. informal bum, botty, prat, jacksie; Scottish informal bahookie; N. Amer. informal butt, fanny, tush, tushie, tail, duff, buns, booty, caboose, heinie, patootie, keister, tuchis, bazoo, bippy; W. Indian informal batty; black English rass, rusty dusty; Brit. vulgar slang arse; N. Amer. vulgar slang ass; technical nates; humorous fundament; archaic breech. (SOME NICE ONES THERE.)
Hey, ... hey, what? The older I get, the less it matters. What matters is who you are today. Not yesterday, not tomorrow. Today. I remember a quote attributed to the late actress, Elizabeth Taylor. Someone said to her "You've got everything, haven't you?" and she sad, "No, I haven't had tomorrow." Me neither.
But, like most people, I live in hope. And yes, one of our hopes is in our offspring, if any, and if they survive. The world is a perilous place. Who knows? Some people think it's a crapshoot. Others think it's all part of a Divine Plan.
Wait and see. I'm older than you and I don't know. You should live so long.