“Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones. A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you.”Shannon L. Alder
Today I had the honor of going to an old abandoned town here in my state. I was able to walk through what once was homes for an entire town. I witnessed the legacy of this town first hand. I saw homes that would today be fit for two people at most built for families of 4,5,6,7, or more people. I saw tunnels built was no explanation as to why. I saw fields overlooking a river created by a dam. A man who spent years of his life studying the stories of this town spoke to us. Told us the legacy of this town as it had been said to him. On my journey home, I began to wonder about legacy. What would be my legacy? What are my parents’ legacies? What is my hometown’s legacy? These questions swirled and swirled throughout my mind. Is my legacy my education, wealth, status, connections I have made, or none of the above. Does my legacy live on forever, or does it die when people forget my name? Does it die the last time someone thinks about me? Will one day some random stranger walk through what I use to call home and see an abandoned little house and make snap judgments about who I was. Will this judgment be accurate? Probably not. Who does my legacy matter to? Should I care? I think to myself that my legacy should not matter. Yet, consider those in your life whose legacy within the family is one of disgust, anger, resentment. You hear over the dinner table that so and so was annoying, whiny, lazy, and so on. This is their legacy. Did they die knowing that this would be their legacy? Their legacy is the butt of a joke. Do I want to be remembered as a joke? No. No one does. However, we live never knowing what will be our legacy. We can try and try to shape our legacy and form whatever reality or narrative we want, but we will always be the villain in someone’s story. Someone else story. Legacy alters. It shifts. Your legacy to your family may be one of annoyance and headaches, yet the rest of the world may see you as a kind, compassionate soul. Your legacy may be that of the guy who pays with exact change every single day to the guy running the hot dog stand. Your legacy may shift and alter each and every day for each person you meet. Your legacy adapts and changes based on the stories and memories you are in. Your legacy is not one sentence. It is not something that can be defined in 20 words or less. It is a complex array of memories.