Thursday, January 11, 2007

All that you can leave behind

As a favor to Maddy, I agreed to be 1 of the judges for the extemporaneous speaking contest of ICA's annual Speechfest. For under an hour, I sat in the MPH listening to 4 seniors deliver their speeches. I was actually quite impressed with the girls' performances, considering a) the nerve-wracking pressure that generally comes with public speaking; b) the added pressure of time constraints; and c) the even more added pressure of coming up with coherent and profound answers with no or little time to think. Plus, it didn't help that the questions were kinda lame (absolutely no disrespect meant to Ms.Sia, coordinator and grand dame of the high school English area).

Of the 3 questions posed to the contestants, 1 did strike me as interesting: "What do you want people to remember you most for?" Although it sounds very Ms.Universey, and it could have been phrased to sound less cliched, I liked the theme of legacy, and it also got me thinking how I would answer the question. 1 contestant, who gave my favorite answer of the afternoon, said she wanted to be remembered as a storyteller, as someone who spoke about life and its truths (I could tell straight away that the kid was a writer :) ). That answer and the question lingered in my mind even after I left ICA to go back to the office (I had taken a 3-hour lunch break-- COO prerogative ;p).

I suppose there's really no easy answer to the question of how I want to be remembered by people. I play so many roles in life that I could point to any of them and say, "I want to be remembered as a good..." and finish that sentence with "daughter", "sister", "friend", "teacher", "writer" (and perhaps someday, "wife" and even "mother"). And I could go on and expound on each of those roles, the qualities of a good daughter/sister/friend/teacher/writer, but even before I've barely begun, by then someone would be ringing a bell and telling me my time is up.

The shorter, simpler answer would be that I want to be remembered as someone who loved deeply, someone who cared about her family and friends, and who was passionate about teaching and writing. I don't even want to be remembered as the best in anything, or be credited with great achievements, or be lauded by millions. I just want the people who matter most to me to remember me and how my love touched their lives in some way. I don't know if that answer would win me any extemporaneous speech contests or beauty pageants, but it's sincere (though not exactly spontaneous, since I had more than 3 minutes to mull it over, plus the luxury of rereading and editing my words).

Thinking about the kind of legacy I want to leave leads me to a question I've been asked before, but never could give a definite answer to: "What words would you want engraved on your tombstone?" A morbid question, but a revealing 1 nevertheless. I've heard many different answers to this question (my favorite being "Buried alive"), and I've read of many notable epitaphs (John Lennon's "Imagine" is always mentioned), but my own has always eluded me up 'til now. In the middle of writing this blog post about what I want people to remember me for, my epitaph suddenly came to me: "She loved; therefore, she lived." :)

Perhaps they should have just asked the epitaph question in today's Speechfest. It would have led to pretty much the same answers anyway, and it sounds so much more intriguing. Besides, you'd never hear the word "tombstone" used in a Ms.Universe question.

4 Comments:

At Saturday, January 13, 2007, Anonymous rocky said...

Have the she loved therefore she lived transalated to Latin para masaya. :)

 
At Saturday, January 13, 2007, Blogger Ailee Through the Looking Glass said...

Excellent suggestion! Know any Latin scholars? :)

 
At Sunday, January 14, 2007, Blogger Sean said...

Amauit ergo vivunt, I think. I'm not a Latin scholar, but I can at least extrapolate that a bit...

 
At Sunday, January 14, 2007, Blogger Ailee Through the Looking Glass said...

Thanks. :) Committing it to memory for future reference...

 

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