Legacy from the Orbital Perspective

On this first Monday of 2017, I feel the need to reflect on the important things in life. I heard it said that the most important thing in life is to leave a legacy--to leave something behind so that others will know that you were here. When we zoom out to a perspective that I like to call the orbital perspective and look at things over a long time frame, the importance of leaving this kind of legacy blurs into insignificance.

Every president, king and queen, every sports hero, Nobel prize winner, every business leader, pop star, and politician will eventually be forgotten. When time works its equalizing magic the best legacy we can ever hope for is to be a historical footnote. Even the physical things we create, every great cathedral and pyramid will eventually be reduced to dust. When we zoom out to the big picture and long-term view that the orbital perspective provides, striving to leave a legacy (as it's traditionally understood) loses its importance.

But there is a legacy that we can leave that will not only not fade with time but grow exponentially. In every given moment of our lives, every decision and action we take gently (or at times not so gently) nudges the trajectory of not only our individual lives but the entire world. My favorite analogy to explain this is to liken the trajectory of our society to the trajectory of a planet-destroying asteroid that is heading toward the Earth. If we knew about this asteroid far enough out, we wouldn't have to send Bruce Willis and a team of space heroes to blow the asteroid to smithereens. We could send a small spacecraft out to meet the asteroid and with a small force equivalent to the weight of a feather give the asteroid a slight nudge. This nudge over the course of the complete journey toward the Earth could result in a miss distance of thousands of miles--saving every living thing on the planet.

Legacy from the orbital perspective is the projection of the effects, both good and bad, of our daily decisions, words, and actions as far into the future as we can. Legacy from this perspective does not require that we get credit for the effects of our actions. In reality, credit for the impact we make is irrelevant and will not survive the passage of time. But, 100,000 years from now the difference between where our world and civilization are and where they would have been if we had not lived will be vast. We are more powerful than we can imagine!

In 2017, I wish everyone nothing but positive nudges to the trajectory of your lives and our world.

You've been given a great gift George. A chance to see what the world would be like without you
--Clarence Ardbody, AS2