Living and Leaving a Legacy

This may be one of the most difficult articles to write.  I say that because it effects many areas of my life.  We all have our month or maybe months where anniversaries, birthdays, special or specific memorable events happen and happened.  May is mine.  Though determined to write, I pondered and played with what to write that would be helpful, relative and current.  I nearly decided to quit writing for a month because my ability to narrow down a topic was overwhelming.  I guess I am saying this month has so much to write about, but my words seem to limit their significance.  Becoming overwhelmed often stops me in my tracks.  Becoming overwhelmed often is like a sharp corner where I take a detour that was never intended.  I am going to attend to my emotions while attempting to write about topics that resonate with me and with hope they also resonate with you.  This month the topics are monuments, memories and memorials.

Monuments are markers of remembrance.  They can be found on street corners, parks, cemeteries, in the workplace and in our homes.  They are testimonials to what and who is being remembered.  We can easily dismiss who participated, but monuments are built to include experiences that were lived, saved, but not forgotten.  Monuments help us remember.

For example, our parents are monumental people in everyone’s life whether one was born into a traditional family or not.  As children unknowingly, we make idols, stars and super heroes out of people of whom we look up to and admire.  Those who raise us are our key candidates for this monumental status.  Coworkers or friends may also be raised up to this status.  Our brains are wired for what is good therefore when circumstances are not, our minds seek and create scenarios that are good.  Some have labeled this magical thinking or living in fantasy world.  But whatever it is labeled, this innate ability to make even the horrific livable is profoundly astounding.

Monuments are continuously built.  It is a daily process.  We cannot help it.  These monuments, shrines and stories are produced from memories.  Overtime these monuments become memorials.  We turn out endurable memorials which are sized up, honed and polished throughout this building.  The memorials we build often do not stand out except on specific times of the year or on certain occasions.  At the other times, they fade into our depths and profoundly influence our reactions, responses, responsibilities and replies.

Memories index history.  They build on themselves.  Seldom do we submerge ourselves in memories, but rather memories surface as we meet and face others who touch into our personal files of experiences.  Memories are often dismissed as meaningless, yet memories hold massive untouched potential that expand us into a domain that is multi-dimensional.  Memories uphold sections of our lives in such a way that are constantly building despite our limitation of understanding.  Memories provide a depot where we are permitted to reminisce and explore the past and present in order for us to know our history, learn our inheritance and create our legacy.

Memorials are built out of memories.  They progress without much attention through our dealings, exchanges, relationships, roles, delays, procrastinations, misunderstanding, false impressions, achievements, successes and failures.  Memorials last long after the moment is gone.  Memorials such as stories outlive us for decades, yet we do not think about the ramifications in these terms.  Instead, we generally think about our lives in short-term segments that will work itself out and eventually be lost in time rather than something with long-term repercussions.  Memorials are built nonetheless.

Memorials are images cast or a picture painted or a continuous story told while we are conveying unintended messages.  Memorial materials are accumulated by the observer rather than the participant.  Generally our short-sightedness blinds us of what over the long-haul we are accomplishing.  Memorials are what is left behind when the temporary is etched into something permanent.  There comes a time when our memorial is complete.  There comes a time when no more changes can be considered and the stones will be set.

What are you building?  Will the monuments in your life be those who can endure the test of time?  Do your values, truths and guiding principles appear as you contemplate your life stepping stones?  Is the memorial you are building something you hope to pass on as stimulating inspiration and timeless legacy?  Take the time, look within.  Look around.  Examine what you’ve built.  Is it what you hoped for?  If not, take action.  Make changes.  We all are building memorials which will outlive us.  Guaranteed!