In a hundred years, you and I, we will all be forgotten. Forever!
If you know me a little bit by now, you know that I try to be not afraid of harsh truths, the brutal facts. But recently I had a thought that did scare me. I made me think. In a hundred years or so from now, you and I will be forgotten.
In a hundred years, we will all be forgotten.
Just look at how it is now. Do you know who your grandfathers and grandmothers are or were? Maybe. Some people are fortunate enough to know them all well, but most of us have never known a few of them.
Okay, but let’s go one generation further back. Those people are or were probably between 60 and 90 years older than we are. In my case, they would now have been roughly between 120 and 150 years old. Born between 1870 and 1900. And in my case, I never met them. They all died before I was born. And to be honest, I know nothing about them. Maybe three anecdotes, that’s it. I don’t know who they were, what they felt, what their ambitions were. Nothing.
The same goes for most people of their generation, except maybe a few famous people like Madame Curie, Vladimir Lenin, Thomas Mann, Rainer Maria Rilke, Pablo Picasso, James Joyce, Franz Kafka, Virginia Woolf, Alfred Hitchcock, Henri Matisse, to name a few. But what do I really know of them? Hardly anything.
Just imagine, how many people have lived before us. It is estimated, that some 117 Billion people have ever been born on Earth. We are now about 8 Billion. So, some 109 Billion people lived before us. And how many do we really know? Know anything about? Yes, hardly any.
How will it go?
So who will know you and mourn your death? Your parents and their generation, yes, if still alive (maybe hopefully not for them). Family and friends of your own generation, yes, for sure. Your children and their generation, yes, hopefully. Your grandchildren, yes, probably, but definitely not sure for everyone. (My father’s father died before I was born.) Your grand grandchildren? Quite unlikely for most of us.
So, how will it go, when we die (the last one of a couple)? Well, probably your house will be cleared out and most of your belongings will be scrapped on the garbage heap. Let’s be honest here, I did so in the case of my mother. I kept a few things as a reminder. And lots of photos and video, of course, which I have never watched again.
And people will miss you, for sure. The first few years. But then, they will go on with their life. And the memory of you will fade. They will be engaged with their own children and their work and all other things in their life. And … I was gonna say that it is good, but … I don’t know if it is good. It is just the way how it will be.
I guess, it all comes down to the old memento mori and carpe diem. But combined. Yes, we will die. Maybe some day science will have found the secret of eternal life, but our generation and many to come will simply die. So, we will die, but before we die, we will live. Knowing that we will die gives us the obligation to ourselves to make the best of our short life. Especially – like in my case – when you have fulfilled your evolutionary and societal duties. You must enjoy life now, because one day you will gone … and forgotten. That’s the harsh reality, the brutal truth.