Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899)
"When I became convinced that the universe is natural, that all the ghosts and gods are myths, there entered into my brain, into my soul, into every drop of my blood the sense, the feeling, the joy of freedom. The walls of my prison crumbled and fell. The dungeon was flooded with light and all the bolts and bars and manacles became dust. I was no longer a servant, a serf, or a slave. There was for me no master in all the wide world, not even in infinite space. I was free -- free to think, to express my thoughts -- free to live my own ideal, free to live for myself and those I loved, free to use all my faculties, all my senses, free to spread imagination's wings, free to investigate, to guess and dream and hope, free to judge and determine for myself . . . I was free! I stood erect and fearlessly, joyously faced all worlds."
~ Robert Green Ingersoll,"Why I Am An Agnostic"
He definitely achieved a sort of immortality far greater than the Christian fantasy of becoming an eternal harp-playing hosanna-singing yes-man or -woman!
Even for those of us without great public words or deeds, though, all of us touch and affect the people around us, and that effect ripples ever outward; we'll never quite know the full extent to which the world is better for our having been in it.
The joy of it! I love that description!