What are you leaving behind?

While watching an episode of "The Flash" I connected with the storyline where the hero tried to figure out how to make a connection with a villain. He chose to pitch the idea that leaving a legacy in the world was enough of a reason to make different choices. Spoiler, the attempt totally failed! Not because it wasn’t a good point, but because the type of legacy missed the mark for the point of view of the said villain.

Legacy means different things to different people, and in reflection, it also means different things from one generation to the next.

Growing up, the idea of legacy was always associated with an inheritance. It was what your parents and grandparents bank accounts were able to leave you was a representation of your how much they cared for you, which over time turned into feelings of entitlement by those left behind. It could be that this idea was a spinoff of the bygone era of royalty and class.

In comparison today, when I think of my family passing on, any notion of being on the receiving line of an inheritance falls short for me. I was raised to earn my money, it was never, ever, simply given to me. I was raised at the low end of the middle class. There was no such thing as ‘family’ money that would be passed on. Every dollar was spent intentionally for the basics. 

But when I think back, I never felt I ‘went without.’ Maybe it’s because the best parts of growing up were the amount of time I spent with family and friends. My parents took us out on camping trips almost every weekend. Choosing to spend our free time away from the city and demands of house chores and instead time to sit around a fire pit staring into the flames for hours on end. Sitting with my family in quiet and participating in a conversation as they came up. Can you imagine that? Sitting around a pit of wood burning away and literally doing nothing. No smartphone to keep your mind occupied. No agenda or reason to be productive. Just sitting and sharing stories. It is these experiences that I look back on; they are the legacy my parents have passed onto me. So for me, legacy falls into three camps:

  1. Money. Okay, this is a classic, and it won’t go away. But I think this could be viewed through a different lens in my generation. Knowing that most of my generation who have managed to ‘do well’ look at the impact their success can have on the world around them. For them, they can leave a legacy where they are remembered for what they felt mattered in the world. Whatever cause, charity, or ideas that mean the most to them. 

  2. Time. Here is the thing. As they say, no one leaves the world after saying, “I wish I worked more.” or “I wish I made more money.” The biggest regrets tend to be never spending the time they had with those they loved or living their life their way instead of living for someone else. By the end, when the time is up if there is one reason to keep going, it’s to be with those you love. So when I see my parents spending their retirement travelling, the idea that I would have any sense of entitlement that they are spending ‘my inheritance’ is laughable. I love my parents, so of course, I want them to enjoy living life. They are my role models, and as such, I am learning from them to keep my eye on the prize and make choices that work for me.

  3. Ideology and Community. What you leave this world having done. What ideas have you shared? How have you worked within your community to help it survive, grow and thrive? Whether you have worked or volunteered in fields that have long-term impacts on the world 

This all comes down to how anyone can do one or all of the above as merely by living their lives and sharing their stories and ideas.

I had attended a presentation at our local library title “How to Write Your Story,” assuming it would give me writing tips on the topic. But instead, it was presented by a company who works with people who want to leave their legacy in the form of their history told by them through their own stories. 

Writing, editing and publishing a book is not for the light of bank accounts. It is an investment; you need to value the outcome. And from that when you refer to the types of legacies, each type can translate into writing your own story. What you do with it, is up to you and today the options make it so much easier.

I have been pursing a design niche that focuses on helping independant authors bring their stories to life. In an age of digital content overwhelming our senses, it’s more important than ever to document our stories. It means so much more to pass on a book you can hold in your hands than email a digital link.

If you have a book project on your mind, drop me an email anytime. I’d be more than happy to share insights and ideas with you.