Why You Should Be a Living Legacy
Photo credit @Ken Acheson with thanks to @Amanda Kosmerly
Remember this question? If you knew you were going to 'die' tomorrow, what would your legacy be? Would you have an answer? Or to reframe the question, would you feel that your life has had meaning and that it will continue to have meaning after you are gone?
These are heavy questions to ponder at the best of times. I am not sure about you but now that I am in my 60’s, I think about this question far more than I would have at any other time in my life. I think most of us would like to leave a mark on the world while we are still in it but we haven't taken the time to figure out what that could be.
We all have skeletons in our closet, unresolved hurts, grudges, disappointments, maybe fractured relationships, resentments, petty jealousies, and a myriad of other things that are all part of our life's history no matter what age we are. I have come to the stark reality that my life is finite and that if I need to toss some bones out, make amends, let go of past hurts, and disappointments, now is the time I need to do it. If any of this resonates with you, let’s help each other and try this exercise together.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us.” A legacy is not just bequeathing gifts of money or other worldly possessions when we are gone, it can be something we create that connects and enhances our lives now and will continue to positively affect others when we are gone.
I have had a few different careers in my life with the longest being an airline manager for Jazz Aviation LP. I worked for Jazz Aviation for 27 years and I gave my heart and soul to my job. I put Jazz ahead of everything else in my life including my family, my mental and physical health. It never occurred to me to do anything different, I loved my job and all the people I worked with. Concurrent with my airline career, I became a runner and a triathlete at age 45. I was smitten and obsessed with the sport, I trained between 10-15 hours every week, worked my full-time airline job and spent every weekend between May and October doing triathlon events. I did that for 15 years so yes, I put triathlon ahead of my family as well. I somehow thought I was setting a good example of being healthy and fit but in retrospect, it was just all about me.
I am not sure exactly when my revelation came that as much as I loved my Jazz and Air Canada family and I know that they loved me, I had another family who loved me more. My family. I also came to grips with realizing that while triathlon was a real passion for me, I was not good at doing it with moderation and a long-term goal of being healthy and fit. I literally ran myself into the ground. And yes, you guessed it, the people that picked me up was my family.
I think that the American Philosopher George Santayana described it aptly when he said: “There is a brisk energizing of the soul when you really face up to your own existence.” And, Pericles, General of Athens said: “What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.” I realized I had to start weaving in earnest. These days, I think about Legacy in terms of the values that I want to live the ‘rest’ of my life by. Things like integrity, honesty, creativity, contribution, joy, health, wisdom, connection, adventure, freedom and love. I want my legacy to be about what really means the most to me in my life while I am still living and hopefully a better representation when I am gone.
It’s about my family, my friends and about all the little things like making someone feel better, offering a helping hand, doing selfless tasks and being grateful for every day and everything in it. I want to use all of my accumulated skills, talents, triumphs and failures to make a difference. For those that I need to, I forgive you and I ask for your forgiveness. We all need to find the grace and capacity to forgive ourselves for the things we took for granted or could have done better. I want everyone in my life to know how much I love them and how meaningless my life would be without them.
If you need help to create your Living Legacy, we can definitely get you started. Call or email us at Jennifer Grant International. I would like to acknowledge Robb Lucy who wrote: "Legacies aren't just for Dead People" for giving me the idea to write this blog.