I have often thought deeply about legacy and my role in this very noble noun. It means “something left behind or handed down by a predecessor”. An example in many of the definitions I looked up refers to money or property or wealth of some kind. But I honestly don’t think that I have understood it to be that way in my life. I suppose growing up in a Christian environment has also positioned me to think about the term “legacy” in a much broader sense. Legacy to me has always meant “what we leave behind” specifically our relationships and the consequences of our actions.
Approaching 50 I was thinking about legacy and what I am working toward. And I have to say the foremost driver, but not the only driver, is money for my wife and kids when something happens to me. It’s about them being okay, surviving and being able to cope on a level which is higher than Maslow’s first 2 Needs of survival and having a home. But I suppose it’s more than that, and thinking on a deeper level I am taken back to Ecclesiastes, and the wisdom of Solomon. “Vapour of vapours and futility of futilities! All is vanity”.
But this is not a futility prose. I don’t wish to depress you, rather get you to think about that which is relevant and rewarding. It is my belief that legacy brings us back to the now and being engaged in the present, and finding meaning in the now. The Mindfulness movement is creating momentum to the practices of old. For me, it’s meditating and reading, but not limited to this. Meditating on the Word that carries meaning; finding wisdom from the books of the ancient prophets and teachers. It relates to relevance, belief and faith. The miracle of life and that of my wife and children’s’ lives. I marvel at my children when they sleep. I am comforted by the gentle breath of my wife when she sleeps beside me.
In the turmoil of life, lack, and threat, the beauty of life and love, makes everything worthwhile. When it is over (death) the relevance of those moments pass into nothingness for us. But for others they remain.
There is a popular adage that goes something like “We only use 10% of our brain capacity”. This isn’t actually true. Perhaps we only use 10% of our brain for thinking, but by far the majority of our brain capacity is taken up by experiencing emotion and processing the plethora of data that is being absorbed by our senses every millisecond of every day. Our brains and nervous system are exceptionally busy. If we can isolate, just for a few moments each day, and appreciate the beauty of our present experience, we build legacy and even enjoy it before it is left only to others. If you would like to, it is time to: if I may quote Nigel March (Ted Talk fame); “move away from the moronically simplistic notion that the person with the most money, when they die, wins”. Legacy is more, it starts today in the present, why not start enjoying it?
Photo Credit: Nick Wilkes http://www.nickwilkesphotography.com