Legacy. If one were to look in the dictionary the definition states:
- Law. a gift of property, especially personal property, as money, by will; a bequest.
- Anything handed down from the past, as from an ancestor or predecessor.
While this definition is applicable in many ways it is not the definition that I would choose when thinking about leaving a legacy long after this part of my journey comes to an end. For me, the meaning behind legacy extends far beyond the scope of any one thing that holds monetary value and is something that runs deep from within and remains in the hearts of others long after any of us are gone.
Sadly, and despite the importance of leaving a legacy, life steps in and time marches by much too fast. For many people, thoughts of what their legacy might be drift into our minds when it is too late or not at all.
On a recent flight to San Francisco, I watched the movie “The Last Word” starring Shirley MacLaine and Amanda Seyfried. This film was a touching mix of drama with a bit of comedy and the story that unfolded struck a chord in my head and my heart. MacClaine plays Harriet Lauler, a once-successful businesswoman, who reaches out to and employs Anne Sherman, played by Seyfried to write her obituary before she dies. The task at hand proves to be difficult as Anne struggles to find positive things to write or to find anyone that has anything nice to say about Harriet.
Harriet sets out on a journey to reshape the ways she will be remembered dragging Anne along as an unwilling participant. As their journey unfolds, the two women develop a strong bond which dramatically changes Harriet’s legacy but also Anne’s future in wonderful ways.
Movies have a way of teaching valuable lessons at times and better yet can plant invaluable reminders deep within a person’s core if one is open to embracing the wisdom and messages shared. This movie served as yet another wake-up call and reminded me that while we cannot do anything to change the past, it is never too late to change or to create a better life for tomorrow.
Everyone has a story and everyone’s life matters. Everyone has something to share and has a legacy to leave behind. The question is, what do you want your legacy to be? What do you want to be remembered for? What will others think about you or say long after you are gone? These are all valuable and important questions to ask yourself. Today is a new day and it is a day that you can clear the page and start writing a new chapter if you so choose.
People get so caught up in the chaos of life buying into the myth that the grass is greener on the other side. It is easy to get sucked into always wanting more. In truth no one is going to be remembered for how big their house was, how nice of a car they drove, how much money was made or if designer clothes were worn.
Maya Angelou captured, in part, one of the most valuable meanings behind legacy when she wrote, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
This quote and sentiment is so true and it is something to remember as we walk this journey. Creating a beautiful legacy is something that you can start working on today and here are a few things to embrace along the way:
- There are no guarantees in life. Live each day as if it could be your last and embrace every moment you are blessed to live. In reality, this moment is the only thing you can count on and what you do with it can have positive or negative impact moving forward to the next. CHOOSE WELL.
- Find your PASSION and pursue your dreams. Perhaps you have already found it but if not, remember, it is never too late to start something new, change something old or take a different path. What do you want to be remembered for?
- BECOME who you are. If there are things in your life that are keeping you stuck in a place you no longer want to be or you are waking up each day feeling unhappy or not living true to who you are, you CAN change. Start today. Write a new story and believe that you can. Create a legacy that you are proud of and become the person you want to be remembered as.
- GIVE. Giving is a gift to others but it is also a gift to ourselves. There are opportunities every day to make a difference in this world. Find something and do it.
- Be KIND. Being kind costs nothing and it can make a difference in the lives of others. It is impossible to know what another is going through at any given moment and something as simple as a smile or a hug can change someone’s day or life.
- We are born with an inner GPS that helps to guide us in our journey. Listen to your inner voice; it can help you to choose right from wrong. Do the next right thing and you can fall asleep each night with a peaceful heart.
Creating a wonderful legacy does not have to be a difficult task or chore. There are many things that each of us can do every day that will automatically lead to living a good life and when gone, we can leave a good legacy for those we have left behind to remember us by. Linda Ellis wrote “The Dash“and captures so much about the importance of legacy. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zsY6UrFIsNs
Ask yourself one question. “If today were my last day what would my legacy be and how would people remember me?” You may not hire someone to write your obituary like Harriet did, but why put off creating a life today that will leave a beautiful legacy tomorrow?
In Peace and With Love