July 10th, 2008
The Last Post

What will your last post say about you?

A friend of a friend died recently. I’d never met him, not in the real world, nor my friend either. And yet there is a hole left in my world marking his place in my life. Winston Rand…He was a pretty good guy.

Winston wrote vibrantly right up to the end. In the week before his death he wrote a post, “Fears of My Demise…” not about dying but about upgrading to the most recent version of WordPress. He was thinking about buying a cool little Honda scooter. One of his own favorite posts (and a favorite among his readers) was A Will to Live…Revisited written just two months before his death.

Reading through the archives of Winston’s blog got me wondering about all the blogs that will live on after their authors are dead. Will I have written something worth reading or will it be just an embarrassing mind dump, my usual litany of complaints about the weather? How much of this is just chatter? Shouldn’t I write every post giving it the attention I would if I knew it were my last?

by M Sinclair Stevens

20 Responses to post “The Last Post”

  1. From Mr. McGregor's Daughter:

    I’d be concerned that it would all get too serious & not be any fun anymore. I guess I live my life for each day & don’t worry about what my “legacy” will be. I’ll be dead, so why should I care? I’m more concerned about how I’m viewed today & maybe tomorrow, which is about all I can do anything about.

  2. From Nancy Bond:

    Excellent question. I’ve tried to give my readers something to think about with most posts. Of course, there are always going to be those posts in which we grumble about the weather or prattle on about mundanities in our lives. I think it matters not so much the *words* we leave behind, but more, perhaps, the overall impression of who or what we are. I’ll be interested to read others’ responses to your question.

  3. From mr_subjunctive:

    Life’s too short to treat every blog post as your last. Not that it’s bad to be mindful of how permanent posts can be, and not write stuff flippantly, but Last-Posting every picture, every comment, every everything, is an unreasonable amount of pressure to put on oneself. Things are stressful enough without trying to live a life full of Final Words, Final Actions, etc.

    For me, it’s the other way around. Life is too short not to be paying attention. — mss

  4. From bill / prairie point:

    You could write your own obit on your blog – or a farewell statement telling everyone what you really think – and set it to automatically publish in one day. Then every morning you could delay it for one more day.

    Or another thought is to devise a way for it to be automatically deleted unless you cancel the command. My mother-in-law burned 40 years worth of daily journals the week before she passed.

    Unfortunately everything I write is probably about the best I can do at the time. I say unfortunately because I wish that I could write like Hemmingway or had the wisdom of Buddha, but if anything like that shows up in one of my blog posts it will be because I plagiarized it.

    I love your suggestion on writing my own obit. It made me laugh out loud. I don’t think I’d ever have the nerve to burn my 40 years worth of journals but I bet someone will. Knowing that, I wonder why I spend so much time writing. Then I remember…because I can’t help it. — mss

  5. From Blackswampgirl Kim:

    “Death is nothing to us, since when we are, death has not come, and when death has come, we are not.” -Epicurious

    I found that quote when I was about 15… before that, I obsessed about what I would leave behind, whether I would make a mark, how people would remember me. And somehow, after that quote got absorbed into my system, I lost all of that. Now I wonder, occasionally, whether certain people will miss me, whether the world has been made a better place with me in it, and all that. But just out of curiousity… there is no longer any pressure for me to create a legacy of any sort, if that makes sense. And I feel much freer for it.

    I don’t feel any pressure to create a legacy, either. There is a difference between wondering about something and worrying about it. I think the important thing is to live consciously, to live thoughtfully. — mss

  6. From Cindy, Katy:

    I read a couple of Wilson’s posts and it sounds like he was indeed a pretty good guy. Having been through such a sudden and unexpected loss recently, I feel for your friend and for all who knew and loved Wilson, in person or through his writing. As far as leaving a legacy, what he’s left is pretty much what I hope for: to be remembered with love and laughter.

  7. From our friend Ben in Pennsylvania:

    Excellent post, Melissa! And a very good point. I try to make sure each post I write on Poor Richard’s Almanac is the best I can do, whether it’s a recipe, humor, garden thoughts, or serious reflection, and I grieve when I feel that I’ve fallen short. But it’s good practice and good discipline, and if it’s given readers pleasure, that’s reward enough for me. As for your blog, it’s always thought-provoking and a pleasure to read. You need never worry about your legacy! And look at this great quote your post provoked from Kim by Epicurious–so wise and true. Thanks to you both!

    You understand me perfectly. I’m not trying to cast a shadow on the enjoyable aspects of blogging by being oh too serious, (although, I personally find “serious writing” to be very enjoyable…and serious humor even more so.) My point is that I want to challenge myself. Is this the best I can do? And if not, why not? To say that sometimes I’m “thought-provoking”–well, that’s just about the highest compliment I can receive. Thanks. That’s a goal worth working toward. — mss

  8. From Dee/reddirtramblings:

    MSS, I’ve thought about this a lot as I’ve lost quite a few friends during my life. I never wondered about the blog until I read a book about blogging, and she said we should plan for someone to let our readers know if we died. Interesting isn’t it?~~Dee

  9. From Steve Mudge(Fort Worth):

    Too late–you already have a legacy! Just keep on doing what you do and we’ll keep loving it!

  10. From Don:

    I figure I’ll just store up a bunch of posts on blogger, and keep posting every day for six months or so after I’m gone… see how long it takes people to catch on.

  11. From linda:

    Very thought-provoking post.

  12. From Cinj:

    An excellent question. I guess I’m living for fun and silliness right now, I need to lift myself up out of depression. I do try to do my best work though, but it doesn’t always turn out that way.

    Anyone who’s seen me pimp my hoe knows I’ve nothing against fun and silliness. Winston Rand’s own last post was about leading his life with the moral yardstick of “WWJD?”, that is, “What would Jimmy Buffett do?” My point is, as you say, about trying to do my best. Blogging (and Twittering even more so) makes it easy to be a lazy writer. — mss

  13. From Yolanda Elizabet:

    A valid question but doesn’t it apply to everything in life? You should live every moment like it were your last, is the advice we often get. But if we did, how many of us would be heading for a nervous breakdown? 😉

    I prefer living in the now and not worry about what may or may not come. When I write I enjoy writing and do not worry about what other people will think of it, when I peel potatoes I peel potatoes and do not worry how they will turn out. It’s very calming just being in the moment. And NOT worry.

    Of course I try to do the best I can, well, most of the time. 😉 I’m human, I’m imperfect and I can deal with that because a long time ago I decided to forgive myself for not being perfect. 🙂

    And to answer your second question: yes, your writing is worth while because I, for one, enjoy it and there are many more who do.

    Keep writing and do the thought provoking thingy too every now and again. Not too often as that will make my head hurt. 🙂


    No. I don’t believe one can live every moment as if it were our last. Nor am I a big fan of living in the moment. But there is a great divide between our public and private faces which technologies such as blogging bridge. I think there are some good reasons to keep them separate…or at least to be conscious, to be aware of what we say and do in public. In our public aspect, we have the opportunity to be creative, to be the best person we can be. There is a tendency in modern life to blur the lines between public and private, to consider our worst selves our “real” self and our best selves some kind of “put on”. I don’t agree. — mss

  14. From Gail:


    You should continue writing each and every post exactly as you have been doing… amusing and making us think. I read this post when you published it and thought I had nothing of real value to add to these thoughtful comments. Until this morning….when I glanced out the window as we drove on the interstate and saw the paper cup dancing about in the wind. I smiled as I thought of your post and of Winston, who will have moments of immortality whenever we see a paper cup dancing on the road.

    You hit the nail on the head, I think. Thanks to Winston, I’ll never look at a paper cup littering the street the same way. Just as thanks to Carol at MDG, I’ll never look at a hoe the same way. Whether serious or amusing, good writing makes us see the world with new eyes. — mss

  15. From Barbee', Kentucky, USA:

    Don’t change a thing.

    The tagline for an INTJ is “continual improvement”. I hope I haven’t reached the apex of my life. Staying just the way I am holds no appeal for me. I want to question, and test, and experiment. Let’s make today better than yesterday. Hmmm…life IS rather like gardening, isn’t it? — mss

  16. From Carol, May Dreams Gardens:

    The best thing you can do with your life is live it like you are living. Enjoy it, do something, writing something, plant a tree seedling even if you know you’ll die tomorrow. I hope someday others looking at my blog will look at it as the whole, click on the tag for “gardening geek” and wonder which of those are really me, click on the tag for “humor” and maybe find some humor, and enjoy the flowers like every day is Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day.

    Were we all perfectly content with our lot there would be no curiosity, experimentation, exploration, or inventiveness. I think I could live my life much better than I am living it today. This isn’t a complaint about the present. I can appreciate the now and still want to do better tomorrow. — mss

  17. From Bob Pool:

    Please dont get to serious about all your writing having to be your best possible work. I want to read the natural flow of thoughts from you on things that interest you at that time whether the weather or a death. Although I’ve never met you, I like you, I respect you and would like to meet you some day. That blog persona is a person that writes seriously one day and complains about the weather the next, humorously about hoes one day and about sadly losing a plant the next. Whether irate about a construction project or a little boast about a prairie meadow, I now want to know about it. It is the combination of the different types of writing that makes you the person I know and yet have never met. Please M. don’t make every thing serious and thought provoking, as I like you just the way you are.

  18. From Angelina:

    This is a timely subject for me. The last number of posts of mine have not been up to my standards and I was feeling very irritated by how blah they felt to me. I am constantly trying to write posts that make ME want to reread, that help myself see things in new ways. I write for others enjoyment or curiosity, but never above my desire to write for my own enjoyment. When my writing is very very good I find that I learn new things from myself and that is an incredibly satisfying achievement. I totally get that desire to constantly have one’s eyes fixed on improving what one is doing.

    I think life and people are constantly changing whether they want to or not, so to say “don’t change” is meaningless. The best we can do for ourselves is to be aware and awake to the possibilities so that the change has purpose and meaning for us which makes it all more poignant and often more pleasant.

  19. From Blackswampgirl Kim:

    MSS, I came back specifically to read all of the comments… those of your visitors and you all are very thought-provoking. I think that you’re right on with what you’re doing, and that sometimes a dissatisfaction with our own posts is okay. It makes us post more consciously and thoughtfully, as you mentioned in your reply to me–and I agree wholeheartedly that those are good aims in life. Much more important than creating a legacy, I think.

  20. From Bonnie:

    What a wonderful legacy he HAS left in his blog- to have touched people, like you, who he never knew in person.