"We can only know that we have left a mark while we are alive." The inevitable quote on this subject is Shelley's:
On the pedestal, these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings!
my works, ye mighty, and despair!"
Round the decay of that colossal wreck,
boundless and bare,
the lone and level sands stretch far away.
for physical "monuments." It seems to me that the only truly
permanent monuments are spiritual. And they aren't monuments of the individual
who put them up; rather, they're instances of something that that individual
"channeled" effectively. Jesus channeled the importance of love. The
Buddha channeled the importance of freedom-through-mindfulness. Their personal names may
someday be forgotten, but what they identified with is permanent.
"But I want personal immortality!" Well, what is it that you care about most, in yourself? Your brown eyes? I doubt it. I suspect you care most about something like what Jesus or the Buddha cared about.