Leaving a legacy.
What you want to be known for.
I’m still reeling. In the devastating aftermath of appointing a sexist, racist, misogynistic larger-than-life to lead the world’s most powerful, most influential nation for the next four years, I’m still reeling. I’ve never shared my political views on the blog and despite my sentiment that class is moving out, and white trailer trash is moving in, I’m not about to start.
I, will, however, talk about something very important.
L E G A C Y
What you want to be known for.
“If I am not for myself, who is for me? And when I am for myself, what am I?” is the well-known aphorism from Hillel, a famous Jewish rabbi.
Red White & Blue Moto Jacket (Forever21) | Ripped Red Skinny Jeans (NY & Co) | Floral Top, Rings & Sunnies (thrifted) | Ankle Booties (JustFAB)
But then again, who expects that of me? I’m just a regular person. Nobody cares what I leave behind, or what I do or say. Nobody will remember me beyond my family. Nobody pays attention or cares about what I contribute to the human race! I’m not obligated to the world. I’m just trying to survive, and as long as I take care of my family, keep my kids from going off the rails, don’t kill anybody, maybe have a little fun, that’s good enough for me.
L E G A C Y
A legacy isn’t only about leaving what you earned but also what you learned, and we all have an opportunity to make a difference. It doesn’t call for wealth, fame or even taking giant steps. “Legacy” isn’t just for the rich and/or the famous. We each create our own every single day. The fact is, whether you’re thinking about it or not, value it or not, your legacy is being created, either consciously or unconsciously, with or without your curation.
And in this present climate, it is ever so much more important that we decide what it is we want to be remembered for. Frankly, I’ve come to believe that ignoring the task of legacy (or allowing it to formulate without conscious thought) has contributed greatly (or not so greatly, as it were) to the toxification, the dumbing down, the weakened striving for and inarguable lessening of what have long been considered desirable human traits: integrity, compassion, humanity, generosity, honor, and open-mindedness.
Instead, we live in a world where too many presume they’re invisible enough to not be held responsible for their actions. A world where the self-absorbed think nothing about the negativity they leave in their wake, the ugliness they inject into their sphere. People who care so little about “making the world a better place,” or “living an admirable life, even if for no one but oneself,” that they pillage and plunder with impunity.
They leave tweets of incomprehensible stupidity that sometimes have lasting and powerful effect. They engage in thoughtless, destructive email exchanges as if “no one’s watching” or hacking hadn’t become normalised in a world of zero privacy. They forget that screenshots can immortalise deleted threads, hateful speech, and knee-jerk reactions later regretted. They spend precious hours of life sharing hateful dialogue and trolling those who might not share their beliefs. They bully and attack with little concern for who they hurt or what negativity they foment. They steal art, denigrate kinder people, and make any online exchange a brutal gauntlet.
And they do all this with impunity, because they’re either hiding behind a screen name, they’re convinced they won’t be found out; they think they’re entitled or above reproach, or they simply don’t care. They don’t care if their persona, their name, their identity, the essence of who they are is attached to something heinous and hideous. They don’t care about legacy.
BUT THEY SHOULD
Whatever you might believe about spiritual life, life beyond the physical realm, or the existence of energy and consciousness, the fact remains that what we create has impact. On us, our families, our friends, the communities where we live, the countries to which we pledge our allegiance; the global alliance we call the human race. It doesn’t matter if you’re famous, notorious, large, small, or in-between, you have impact. Visible, not visible, felt, not felt; ignored, denied, or dismissed.
You have impact. That’s your legacy.
Even if you’re someone who doesn’t give a f*** about what that impact is, the way you affect and influence your children, your personal circle, the world, anything and everything you touch IS your legacy. You should care about that.
Because there can be no purpose in life more important than making one’s imprint of value. We may not be able to control whether we succeed, gain fame and fortune, or become the kind of person whose death inspires Facebook posts, but that can’t be the criteria. The criteria for any person’s legacy is simply this – make everything you say, do, write, create, share, influence, or affect be something your children, your mother, your father, your spouse, the people you care most about, YOU, would be unequivocally proud of.
Do no harm.
Control your anger, your hate, and the urge to damage or demean.
Embrace the simplest of rules like “do unto others.”
Stoke empathy at every turn by considering how your words and actions would feel to you then act accordingly.
If nothing else, do think about if you were famous and people were talking about you after you died. What would they say? What would they celebrate? How would you be remembered? And would you be comfortable with what you come up with?
But sometimes we have to jar ourselves into understanding more clearly the impact we do have. Little things add up, good and bad, and what you leave behind really ought to be something meaningful. Thesaurus offers one synonym for “legacy” that I’m particularly partial to – GIFT. Where I come from, it’s cultural to always leave a gift when one is a guest. And given the brief, transient nature of life, I’d suggest that we’re all guests in every moment we live. And, ergo, gifts should be regularly left, which only serves to affirm my thesis.
Your legacy is your gift.
Think about the gifts you leave behind.
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