Saturday, August 22, 2009

The last lecture or what do you want on your tombstone

There is a phenomenon on college campuses known as the "last lecture". Where the speaker is asked to deliver a lecture that would encapsulate the wisdom he would want to impart if he knew he was dying and it was his last lecture. It kind of reminds me of an old pizza commercial from a company called Tombstone that went -"What do You want on Your Tombstone?" I think that question has a very great significance for parenting and life in general. What do we want our children to remember about us when we are gone? If we had a one final opportunity to say something of importance to our kids, what would it be? The reflections of this sort are part of Jewish thought. Our Sages teach us that a person should repent a day before his death and then ask does a person know when he would die and then answer it in the negative and deduce from it that a person should always repent being that he doesn't know the moment of his ultimate demise. Obviously, we cannot live our lives as if we are constantly staring death in the face, but my husband tells me, it means in the very least a person has to live their life in such a way that if he has to go, at least he wouldn't be embarrassed by what he was doing at that moment. I once read a great idea from Rabbi Avi Shulman. He advised that parents should keep a notebook of their Torah thoughts or ideas that at some point they could present to their kids. In general, I am quite enamored with the idea of keeping a journal and various theme journals one could keep ( I think I even posted about it) so this would be one such journal idea. We should write a "farewell address", even for our own use. It helps us focus on what's important, on what our goals are for ourselves and our families, on what kind of people we really would like to be. So go ahead and write it , the last lecture, for yourself and for your kids and then go and live it.


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