The more seasoned and experienced I get (note – I didn’t say “older”), the more I understand the importance of what we leave behind. Although I know I still have many decades of life, love, and laughs in front of me, I recognize that someday there will be a final curtain. And I don’t say this with any doom and gloom, I simply want to point out that someday, we will run out of tomorrows, and that should place a greater emphasis on the importance of today.
Lately I have been thinking about whatever legacy I will leave behind. What will my footprint look like? How will my grandchildren talk about me in 50 years? That matters to me. I care about the mark that I am leaving behind me. My signature stamp is important to me. God knows that I have made my share of mistakes, but I have always tried my best to rectify them. And I think I am doing the right things. I want people to be able to look back at some of the things that I have done with a certain fondness and hopefully even continue to carry some things forward.
Do I want my kids and grand kids to be runners, cyclists, or triathletes? I want for them whatever they want for themselves. I would love for them to find something that they are passionate about, and devour it. I want them to be able to figure out what pushes their buttons, and go for it. It doesn’t really matter what that something is. And if they can channel that passion in a way that might benefit others, better still. And yes, I am proud at the thought of someday someone opening a scrapbook or a box of finisher’s medals or reading some of the things that I have written and gaining a better understanding of just what all of this meant to me. It’s good. It’s all very good. I am one of the luckiest people I have ever known.
While I don’t always know exactly where I am headed, I typically have a pretty sound belief that the direction I am traveling is the “right” direction. I try my best not to leave too much litter and debris along these roads that I travel. (It’s also OK to revisit a road travelled years ago and perform a little retro clean up. You’d be surprised the difference that can make. Out of sight is not always out of mind.)
Unfortunately there is no magic formula for any of this stuff. Sure there are books and experts of which a small fraction probably add any legitimate value. Most people find their way simply by finding their way. They follow the stars, trying doors and paths along the way and hope they chose correctly. Sometimes they will and sometimes they won’t, and that’s OK. How you realign and correct your navigational path is more important than making an initial wrong turn. This is as exact as it gets.
So if there is a message in this (other than my typical fragmented yet therapeutic banter), I think it is that we should all just think about what we are leaving behind. Are we cultivating gifts of compassion that we hope will be passed down the line? Are we living our lives with dignity and respect for others?
What will others say about us when we leave the party?
Be remembered for the right reasons.