I just inherited my grandfather's coin collection - well, not quite inherited, I got tasked with seeing if the stuff was worth anything and if it was, selling the it and splitting the loot with my brother. As I investigate, I am coming to the realization that my grandfather's careful placing of pennies into slots in dented blue cardboard books was more an act of love than a way to fund his grandchildren's retirement. Rather than selling, I'll probably end up dolling out the worn, incompletely filled "Lincoln Collector Folders" to his great grandchildren, along with stories and memories of sitting at the kitchen table sorting coins with him, with our fingers covered in grime and the metallic penny smell in our noses.
Right now I'm working on a mystery set in Tanzania. I've been trying to learn what I can about the Tanzanian criminal justice system. A writer named Muhammed Said Abdulla, who died in 1991, wrote a number of mysteries that I'd love to read. But they aren't in print in English and I don't read Swahili. I'm not even sure they're in print in Swahili since so far none of his novels appear to be for sale anywhere I can find online. The most recent one came out in 1984. He might have missed the digital age entirely.
What does this have to do with my grandfather's penny collection? I guess not much other than they've got me got me thinking about the value and impermanence of what we leave behind. My grandfather's penny collection doesn't appear to be worth much to anyone outside the family and Mr. Abdulla's work may not have survived, despite the awards he received during his lifetime (although he does have a nice Wikepedia page).
Maybe the question shouldn't be about our legacies. Perhaps the most important thing is the joy we bring in the moment. Sharing a good story or hanging out with the grand kids, these things are enough in and of themselves.
So here's to enjoying life while we are still here (and in print). L'chaim.