The miracle of life isn’t only that we are born, but that we live for any appreciable time after that, given the frailty of existence. Each of us is a highly-porous container in which thermodynamically unfavorable reactions are coupled with ATP hydrolysis to keep us “alive”. Life is not meaningless because it is a chain of chemical processes of finite duration. It is precious precisely because it is ephemeral.
There is an insurmountable mountain of books to read, songs to listen to, people to meet, and places to visit in a short time. It is an impossible undertaking. There are only a few years to find out one thing (however arcane) that no other human knew before, to create something new- before the blip on the radar ends. Each discovery opens doors to many more questions that will not be answered in a lifetime. You can spend an entire lifetime searching for the right questions to ask, never mind figuring out the answers. Perhaps, it is well that we only see a fraction of the stars that exist; of the myriad beings that inhabit earth. We are terrible custodians, undeserving of that which we have been given. How should we be worthy of more than this?
You wake up in a daze. And just as your eyes find clarity– you realize that your life is not as good as you had once hoped, nor as bad as you had once feared. Life happens as you search for and abandon all hope of finding its meaning. Life finally finds whatever meaning you give to it.
Every one of us is more than one person, lining up in a continuous row, changing over time. The young person in the photograph in front of you is both you and not you. Be a role-model for that younger self. If that is too high a standard, be an older friend. If that is also too difficult, try not to embarrass him or her all the time. You might have more real-world experience, but your younger self had more worthy ideals.
Tell people what you have discovered in life, but know that you are not infallible. You are not irreplaceable either: the person you are training is your replacement. If you are lucky, one day, you might be able to take pride in finding that your replacement knows more than you ever did. That is how life is and also how it should be.
The question of how you will be remembered after you are gone is really not important. It should not just be humbling, but also a source of great joy if the world goes on virtually unchanged after you are gone. If leaving causes as little disruption to as few people as possible- that should be a sign of a successful life too.
Forget authorship, your existence will have been a success if you are mentioned in the acknowledgements section of someone else’s life.