Since posting my blog Reading and Living a Legacy - Send a Book to a Friend earlier this year, I have received many literary blessings from friends and clients, giving life to the old cliché (and in this instance a pun, but not an idiom): “You read me like a book." And they certainly have done so, quite successfully. Together we continue to explore the complementary notions of living and leaving a legacy with the traditional practice of estate planning, which if left alone, focuses only on “leaving your stuff."
From Practice Aloha - Secrets to Living Life Hawaiian Style, by Mark Ellman to the most recent gift, Is This Seat Taken? Random Encounters That Change Your Life, by Kristin S. Kaufman, my “living a legacy” reflection has many new layers. Ironically (or is that prophetically?), Kristin was herself a random encounter (or was she?).
Kristin tells personal stories that highlight the gifts of her random encounters and then invites our own reflection guided by the following: “Being Present in the Moment: Moving Towards Alignment." By embracing the added mindful intention of alignment, legacy is given even greater meaning, or potentially an active mandate. Total alignment requires a collective awareness of those present moments which are now part of our past, with a challenge to artfully carry them forward to the next present moment.
And therein lies the heart of “Living a Legacy” - awareness. One need not discard the past to be fully in the present. Instead, one should magically embrace its positive energy and transform it lovingly into the present*. Adding these layers acts as building blocks that actually enhance and empower the present exponentially. And, when the future then becomes the present, it is augmented with even greater intensity. Recognizing that the past has at differing times been both the present and the future, we can embrace the present with the same excitement for the role it plays in the future’s past and present. This is how a legacy is recognized, embraced, and communicated.
Karen Salmansohn, sometimes referred to as a "happiness expert," summarizes my perspective perfectly: “Everything you’ve ever done, every person you’ve ever met, every experience you’ve ever had, is a part of who you are today, adding interesting layers to your being, and colorful depths to your soul. Everything needed to be as it was, so you could grow as you did and do.” Soul and legacy are terms that we should grow accustomed to recognizing in tandem.
And so it is with our legacy and the blessings of our relationships. If you are totally present with a cherished friend, loved one, or family member, then you are also present with everything they have ever done, every person they have ever met, and every experience they have ever had. If we are mindful and aware of this tremendous efficiency of being, then we have in effect, known that person forever - their past is collectively part of our presence together. Our legacy is therefore intertwined with their legacy. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have this experience, awareness, and understanding among our parents, grandparents, and others who have shaped our lives and to be able to carry that legacy forward? Be mindful – you can do it.
And in the end, it doesn’t take long for me to recall a lyric from an old Beatles song, to express my world view. “I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together." John Lennon, I Am The Walrus, Magical Mystery Tour. We are all together - thank you.
A brief side-bar, as I just loved this adorable picture, which paraphrases a sentiment I've expressed to my wife many times. And then it hit me – I had, in fact, loved her forever.
*As for the negative energy from the past – dismiss and leave it in the past – no need to pull it forward. If it had somehow protected you in the past, say “thank you” and then “good-bye”. It is not your legacy.