By Dorian Martin, I Start Wondering Founder
Legacy. That’s a weighty word – and one that we tend to avoid thinking about until someone dies. However, I believe that middle age is the best time to review our own contributions to this world. Then we can begin to make course corrections so we can live the quality of life we desire while also creating a meaningful legacy.
Life Lessons on Building a Legacy
Recent events have caused me to start to reflect a lot on this topic. Late last week, I had the opportunity to write the obituary for a dear friend who was a member of the Greatest Generation. Like many of his counterparts, my friend served in World War II and then earned a college degree before devoting himself to a profession. While he was active in the communities where he lived, he was even more invested in his family and his friends. At his funeral this week, my friend’s career was briefly mentioned, but he was primarily celebrated for being a beloved husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, friend and community member. He left behind an important legacy of love, service, hard work and compassion.
The second event happened during a visit to the post office. As I prepared a package to be mailed, two people who were about the age of my friend were deep into a conversation about current U.S. politics. Since I couldn’t help but listen to the conversation since they were standing right by me, I heard them talk derisively about family members who didn’t agree with their political views. Their conversation seemed to indicate that they had built up such walls within their family that dialogue wasn’t a possibility. I found that notion to be so sad, especially since these two are in their golden years. I started wondering what their legacy will be if they don’t start soon in trying to mend – instead of deepen — these rifts.
Thinking Deeply About Life’s Direction
These two examples have me really considering what I want my legacy to be. I’m trying to be really intentional in my choices. I have learned to say no when something doesn’t feel right. I realize that I want to maintain strong and loving bonds with my biological family while also creating a caring “family of choice” (i.e., my friends). I want to do meaningful work and participate in my community in ways that are aligned with the world I want to help create. For instance, I am currently participating in the Citizens Fire Academy hosted by my city’s fire department. I’ve met a number of wonderful people and also learned more about this important part of our municipal government.
I hope to explore the concept of legacy in future I Start Wondering posts. Until then, I hope you’ll join with me and start to consider the legacy you’re creating with your life.