” Put up yer dukes and show me whatcha got!” Wow. The classic combative cliche. Also how so many feel day to day at work, at home or in school.
I’ve never been much interested, actually in either what you or I “have got,” (the one with the most toys wins?) or what you or I “do.” (Corner office? A lot of initials after your name?)
Why? Because my true legacy isn’t about either my assets, or my accomplishments (How many of us have been Mandela, Ghandi, or Mother Teresa, really?). It’s about WHO and HOW I am, and the stories I leave in the hearts of family, friends, and strangers.
We are the authors and playwrights of our lives, regardless of and in partnership with our higher power or destiny. As we search to recognize the meaning of our lives, many, including me, find that the lasting memory, the value, our legacy is in our stories, our daily routines, and how we’ve created lives that reflect our core values.
My father often said, “If they put me down tomorrow, I haven’t missed a trick!” I’m quite sure that was true. He truly lived with zest and vigor. He also said, “It’s my birthday, but YOU get the presents.” And I did. He was both kind and generous to everyone, donating anonymously and widely, and giving treats to anyone who stopped by. In summer he’d proudly pluck a tomato off the vine or gather a few flowers for you from the back yard. No one left empty handed. Long before the movie, he “paid it forward.”
He would have been 100 years old on 1-11-11, so naturally I bought my son a lobster, to celebrate my Dad’s day as he might have.
Our lives are teachings. We are tapestries, symphonies that are woven out of those unique hardships and joys, the moguls hurdled, through which we leave our chyrsallis behind and emerge filled with light and beauty.
We inspire those around us, but only if we share our story, our passions, secrets, and deepest thoughts. Our rituals, traditions, and customs unique to our family need transmission and elaboration to survive.
When we tell our stories, define our legacies, we reach towards commonality and universality, towards the bliss, nirvana, echad, and oneness depicted in such classics as the “Family of Man,” “The Prophet” and “Whitman’s “Song of Myself.”