I don’t believe the world will remember us at all. Look at all the Nobel prize winners that have faded into obscurity. Even the writers of canonic ‘classics’ are barely read outside of English classes.
One day, even Shakespeare will be forgotten.
But I’m fine with that. Why would I want to be remembered? We don’t mourn last year’s dead leaves. We don’t hold a vigil for the ice in our drink. Life and existence itself are an unending dance of forms, and if nothing died, nothing would ever change. Nothing new could ever be born.
You’re right that we should fill our lives with light and purpose and joy. But not because it will help us to be remembered. We should do it because although our personal life can’t be everlasting, it can be eternal. It can stand outside of time. Those moments when we forget ourselves, when we no longer here the ticking of the clock of our own mortality. I’m thinking of love and risk and tourists who faint when they finally see Paris.
We — little old me, a raving madman in a wrinkled shell — can’t live forever. Not in memory or in any other way. Because the ego is the shell we shed in order to grow, and wanting it to go on is to identify with the shell and not what’s inside. Like cutting your fingernails, then throwing the rest of your body away.
But life itself goes on forever. That’s all we are, another localized expression of the grand truth. A couple of warts on the skin of the universe. In that sense, we do live forever.