I’ve been more focused the last few years as an aging man (aren’t we all?) around the concept of legacy and leaving something of more value behind than when I arrived in my “all together” (as my grandma would say). And, as a father, this is exacerbated. This feeling that I want to leave something to my children that is of infinitely more value than a monetary inheritance has nipped at my heart quite often. No, this isn’t about bashing materialism (there is a time and place for that ;). It’s just that money and stuff were never meant to be stored up to be passed down. What is supposed to be passed down are truth, lessons about life, love and our inner being. And, naturally that occurs most significantly and influentially (for better or worse) in the context of a family.
So, I have written about that in my DadPad posts and right now am going through a year long project to help other men/dads record their life into a tangible document they can pass down. I think the project is a good one and something every dad should do for their children.
Today I read a blog post from a young man I’ve known for years and he made me think a little more deeply about legacy. He’s the son of a good friend of mine and was part of a father/son group that met for a year to discuss topics about manhood and growing into maturity, as a man and as a man of God. At the end of the year we all took a trip up to the Boundary Waters state park in northern Minnesota to celebrate and ritualize the passing of our sons from boyhood to manhood. It was a memorable time. My son and this young man of the blog post have been friends for years. Our kids were 15-16 at the time. The boys are now men.
This young man (Eric) has always had the gift of introspection and being able to pen his thoughts in a way that is unique but able to capture his inner most thinking. Recently, he and his family have been supporting his mother who just found out she has cancer and is in the process of fighting that dreaded malignancy. Eric has been very transparent in dealing with this news. I’ve appreciated his posts and hearing his honest feelings and fears as he’s contemplated the various scenarios being played out. I got his latest post delivered to my email inbox this afternoon and once again his introspection and thoughtfully worded blog post caught my attention. This time it wasn’t about his mother and her fighting cancer (though maybe upon further reflection it did have something to do with his post) but about a sermon his pastor preached recently about legacy and legend and an ensuing conversation he and his wife had with another couple on that subject. Here’s an excerpt from his post:
“from the pulpit our pastor spoke on legacy. an issue too big for 300 words or a 30 minute talk. he asked us what we wanted our legacy to be – what do we want to impart on the world?…
The easiest thing to do when we speak about legacy is to jump to our kids, or are someday kids. to say, what will I impart on them? how will i affect their lives so that they affect the lives around them?
that feels like a cop-out. every day i have hundreds of interactions with various people. in some small way I’m impacting their lives. I’m leaving something with them, whether it’s obvious or not.”
From Eric Siewert, Ernestenvy http://ernestenvy.com/legends-legacies/
You should read his entire post. He expresses his thoughts well and I agree with him. Though I’m thinking much more about what I will leave behind as I get older, I concur that we don’t sacrifice making the most of what is right in front of us at the expense of focusing on a legacy. But, maybe it’s not an either-or scenario. In other words, I agree that in the present we need to be present. That is, we don’t live to leave a legacy but by living intentionally today, we will leave a legacy worth leaving. And, given that we are only able to give a part of ourselves at any time, we will never give all of ourselves to our kids. We leave a legacy bit by bit, day by day.
Leaving a legacy isn’t the goal. Living a life that is worthy of leaving a legacy is. And, that’s the message Eric is trying to convey and so am I. What legacy are you leaving today?