Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Legacy You Leave

What signifies a life well-lived? Are awards, certificates and trophies mounted on the wall symbols of a successful life? Are the years spent on a job the indications of the quality of your life? Is the number of mourners at your funeral the litmus test for lifetime achievement?

What yard stick do you use to measure the legacy of a life? In your elder years when you look back on your life, what will cause you to say, “I have achieved great things in my life.”? What will you point to as proof of your success?

What if you raised a child who grew up believing her dreams were achievable because you told that was so? What if you raised a child that had a compassion and commitment to help others because she learned how to love while on your lap?

What if your children turned out to be dedicated parents because they had you as an example? What if your children grew into adults who supported and encouraged each other because you instilled in them the importance of family unity?

Are these indicators of a legacy of love? Is that legacy of love not proof of a life well-lived? What if you had no children? Does that mean you have no legacy of love to leave? What is your measuring stick of a life?

Imagine you are to be honored at a ceremony for your lifetime achievements. Who would you want to attend the festivities? What would you want said about you? Imagine there will be a presentation at this ceremony that is to represent the span of life beginning with your early childhood memories. What would be included in this presentation?

Now don’t just imagine such a ceremony, write down what comes to mind as you visualize it. Make a guests list. Jot down the things that may be said by the attendees. Describe what that presentation of your life would include.

The purpose of this exercise is to reflect and examine not only how you see your journey of life thus far but also to define how you measure success and achievement. By completing this exercise, perhaps you will become more conscious about building a legacy.


Kay said...

I have often thought of my life's legacy and as a result I am on a journey of self-love, self-improvement and self-empowerment. In doing so I can be a better person, mother, wife, sister and friend.


T. Dorsey said...


To deliberately set out on a journey of self discovery and self empowerment is to live a conscious life. I applaud you!


This is really interesting and it actually struck a sentimental core in me. When I was 15, my favorite aunt, who was my great-aunt passed away. Her obituary was the first 3-fold obituary I had ever seen. It wasn't just filled with photos and poems though. Her life was full of accomplishments. It was a real biography and reading it changed my life. I remember thinking what a way to go out.

What was most amazing to me was that, with all that was written about her, all the plaques on her wall, all the buildings, programs and scholarship funds with her name on them - I personally knew her to be amazing to me. Before that day, I didn't really know the extent of her influences to everyone else. I just knew her to be wonderful to me.

That said, I have no physical children but I am conciously a mother to many. Many ideas, many programs, and better yet, many experiences. I truly think of every project and program as a baby, nurturing it, loving it, knowing that I can only give it it's foundation but that it will impact society in it's own way. I think of the people the baby will serve - when it is old enough. I think of the environment in which the child should grow. And more recently, I've learned to appreciate the term "it takes a village to raise a child". In that, birthing a legacy child but surrendering it to be loved, nurtured, supported and reared by a small village.

However, I realized that the legacy child is not just in those things to be documented but in the birthing of positive experiences we create from day to day. The number of times our positive comments refuel someone's energy for life. The contributions we make in our families. The hope we give.

Interestingly enough, the legacy of experience has worked both ways in my life. I will never forget the person who told me that I was NOT something I felt passionately about and I will never forget the person who encouraged me to keep working for it. Both have left a legacy with me.

This blog entry has definitely put my legacy in mind. Thank you!


T. Dorsey said...


Your aunt obviously left a legacy of love that touched people beyond her family. What an amazing woman she must have been.

Your viewing your work as an artist as a birthing truly resonates with me.

I so look foward to your comments on my blog. You are clearly on your own journey of self discovery and seek to live each day passionatley and on purpose. I celebrate you!

T. Dorsey said...
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Anonymous said...

Each day you write a chapter of your life's story.

Anonymous said...
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