Where there’s a will: The legacies we leave behind outlast us for a long time, if not forever


Business is booming for lawyers. Because of intimations of mortality caused by the pandemic, people are making out the legal document known as the last will and testament, which bequeaths one’s legacy to beneficiaries of one’s choice.

In the general course of things, far from being a morbid or melancholic exercise, at a certain age making out one’s will is like taking mental stock of what you’ve managed to accomplish after a long day of work.

Such stocktaking goes much beyond the material ends you’ve achieved, the money you’ve earned, or the possessions you’ve acquired, though these are unquestionably important.

What might be called the accountancy of existence should include not just what is in our bank balance, and in our ownership by way of property and other purchased and purchasable goods, but also other, intangible legacies we leave in our wake and which can’t be itemised in the arid language of a legal document. So what are these things we leave behind us, other than those of monetary value?

The word ‘will’, apart from its meaning as a title deed defining inheritance rights, also means intention, or choice of thought or action, as in ‘We have the free will to do what we would like to do.’

It is this will, this freedom of choice of thought and deed, which constitutes the larger legacy we leave for the world as a whole, which includes not just our limited circle of relatives, friends and acquaintances, but millions of strangers, never met.

For each time we think something, and act on it, we set into motion a chain reaction of response, like a stone dropped into water spreads ripples long after it has disappeared from view.

In our day-to-day interactions we have the choice, the will, to act justly or unjustly, with kindness and tolerance, or their reverse. And all these myriad acts of will have a carry-forward effect by affecting the thoughts and actions of others, on and on, in ever-growing circles.

That’s how our true will long outlasts our life.

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Disclaimer

Views expressed above are the author’s own.



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