Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Joy Of Legacy

Two days ago, I wrote about the legacy left to me by my Grandpa Jack. At the end of the post, I asked how you honor the sacrifices and stories that have put you where you are now.

I've continued to think about the idea, and tried to see how I have succeeded or failed in this. I decided the ideal answer would be to say that I create legacies for other people. But I looked at my bare ring finger, and then down at my flat stomach, and wondered, "How am I investing in other people, in future people, if I don't have a family for whom to sacrifice?"

That really bothered me. It isn't that I want people to know my name after I die -- though that would be nice -- but I want my life to be a transformative power for someone else.

I was sad. I cried a little bit. I called my mom and ate a lot of cookies.

Then I had a student come to me after class, and timidly ask if I could meet with her outside of class. She wanted to talk about some things she was going through, but didn't think her friends had the perspective she needed.

My first reaction was surprise ("Umm, okay. But... why me?"). My second reaction was inward pouting ("It's because she sees how OLD I am!"). The third reaction was an "aha" moment, when I realized that I was being given the opportunity to invest in a life.

In a small way, I was creating a legacy.

My heart was enveloped with joy, the kind that smells like vanilla and cookies and comfort. My life wasn't just a trek to meaninglessness or self-absorption... I had something precious to contribute.

It's almost funny that I haven't made this connection before. I love teaching, and I really do believe that if students pay attention in their Communications classes their lives can be richer for it. But I thought the skills and thought patterns I taught would create transformation... and it isn't just that. It's the way I teach. It's being approachable and caring and flexibly-scheduled.

And it's remembering that legacies don't travel through DNA.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

You have an amazing voice to share with people. That may very well be your legacy. Having children is good too.

Kiki said...

"Legacies don't travel through DNA"? That's the excuse you give to mom when she asks why she doesn't have grandchildren??

canamgirl said...

See...why do you have to go and write these kinds of blogs?? Now my maternal instinct is kicking in; I was certain I had crushed it!