Life is too long to live without one.
I went to a friend’s mother’s funeral-visitation yesterday. After greeting my friend at the casket, I sat in the back row of the church just to watch and ponder. It has always been fascinating to me to watch the menagerie of people and emotions that show up. Because I didn’t know this woman while she was living (only through her insightful and poetic daughter), everyone was a stranger and it was a guessing game to figure out whom is related to whom, how she touched each person’s life, and what their reaction was/is to her death.
I watched my friend greet each visitor with grace, a huge smile, and a huge hug. Naturally I thought of doing the same for my mother one day and then thinking of the not-yet-conceived daughter of mine that may one day do this for me. Will I have shared enough of myself while I’m here that so many hugs and memories will be blessed over my body? Will I be able to leave this Earth saying, “I’ve done all that I was meant to do.” A quick anxiety also popped up inside of me: I may have already lived half of my life as someone in her mid-thirties (how morbid, yet realistic!). Am I going fast enough?
And then a wiser voice said: So far life has created a path for me to get to this very moment and be present for this event. I live a life that represents all my gifts, talents, and history. And it is awesome to see the vision I had for my life begin to unfold in a very tangible way. Everyday I’m discovering each new brick along the yellow brick road. I don’t need to get to Oz right away; I’m enjoying the journey. This journey is my legacy. (And I choose to wear ruby red slippers all along the way! Even better!)
In order to create a legacy we must begin with a vision. I invite you to spend some time as we transition into the new year with these questions. Your answers will create the steps you need to take in order to craft that legacy and live your life with joy.
- Create a list of all the ways you’d like to be living in 5 years. Don’t be afraid to be super specific and a little idealistic. (I understand 5 years isn’t end-of-life, legacy-building stuff, but you need a realistic timeframe for this short exercise.)
- Where are you living?
- What are you doing?
- Who are you interacting with?
- In 5 years, what are the most important things in life to you? This list is usually a list of values: connection to community, debt free, making a difference, lots of time with family, feeling peaceful.
- When you are living the life you truly want, what have you learned about yourself as you progressed from today to your vision in 5 years?
- Now for the most important step: write down 3 things you can do over the next 2 weeks to move you toward that vision.
- How will you commit to these steps?
The choice is yours how you spend the next several decades of your life. Will you love it or merely exist? Are you contributing to the world or merely consuming it?
I’m so excited for the next half century to play out. Can you say the same? I’m curious…what are the sorts of things you do to remind yourself to show up in order to make a contribution?