For the past few months, I've been part of a webcast called the Rush Deep Dive (you can find the episodes on YouTube). Each of the participants analyzes a song from a Rush album-- usually a deep track that isn't as well known, but we think it should be. This past week, we did a Fans' Choice episode, where the audience told us some songs they wanted us to discuss. That's how I had the opportunity to delve into one of my favorite Rush songs ever, "The Garden." If you aren't familiar with it, there's a beautiful live version here: Rush "The Garden" Live in Dallas. And you can see the episode where I discussed "The Garden" here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J952UN4vEOQ&t=2169s
The timing for discussing this song was perfect: it's the month of Elul on the Jewish calendar, and during that month, it's customary to visit the graves of our deceased loved ones, to remember them, and to promise to do good deeds in their memory. So, a couple of days ago, I visited my late parents, and some of my relatives. (It's also a custom to leave a small stone on top of the grave marker, so that others will know you've been there.) But I also visited some very old graves that looked like nobody had been there in years. Perhaps there was no-one left to visit, or perhaps the relatives had moved far away. So, I stopped by a few of them; and as I stood there, I wondered about who they were during their life.
It made me think about who gets remembered, and who does not. And it made me think about the lyrics from "The Garden." The metaphor of life as a garden has been used in literature many times, and I've always liked it. In Neil Peart's lyrics, he writes about how "The future disappears into memory, With only a moment between, Forever dwells in that moment, Hope is what remains to be seen." Despite how difficult things can be sometimes, we want so much to be hopeful. And during our life, whether it seems that way or not, we all have many opportunities to make our garden beautiful, to make it a gift we can leave to others.
Neil writes, "The measure of a life is a measure of love and respect..." And isn't that what matters most? Material goods come and go. Our possessions come and go. But if we are loved and respected, if we have a life that is worthy of love and respect, that is a life well-lived. And it is up to us to "nurture and protect" our garden, so that the next generation will look at it and be glad they experienced it. And they will nurture and protect their own garden, making their own life a place where love and respect can grow.
I am sure those people I visited, those people I never knew, tried to live that kind of life, tried to leave the people they loved with something valuable, something worth remembering. I know for a fact that my parents lived that kind of life. Neil lived that kind of life too. And that is why it is so important to remember those who contributed to us. That is why it is so important to make the time to appreciate what they gave us, what they left for us.
The other day, someone said to me that my legacy would be that I discovered Rush. It's certainly something to be thankful for, and I'm glad I played some small part in their success. But to be honest, I'm not sure I want that as my legacy. When I die, assuming anyone does remember me years from now, I hope they will say I tried to be an ethical person. I hope they will say I tried to be compassionate. And I hope they will say I did my part to make this world a better place. That is what my parents taught me to do. That is what Neil invited us all to do: "the way you live, the gifts that you give... In the fullness of time, a garden to nurture and protect."