I just finished reading “The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green. Sure it is a young adult book, but it was amazingly written and gave me a lot to think about. One of the characters in the book, Gus, talks about wanting to leave a legacy. Something that will remain in the world so that he too can remain there in some way.
I know that feeling. Wanting to make a difference, wanting to make an impact for generations to come. But, if I am being really honest, it is more than that. I want to be remembered. I want to be attached to great things. I want my book to be picked up 100 years from now and people to be quoting me. I want my legislation to be put in place and honored with a statue. I, I, I… despite wanting to do good things, that narcissism is always attached.
So today, listening to Gus ponder about his legacy, and realize that the world is really not about him, as much as he wants it to be, I realized the same thing. My legacy is not about ME. That is my humanness. That is my desire to be noticed. And loved and needed and appreciated. That is not a legacy. That is just a life in a fallen world. (I was going to quote the book, but there is not one excerpt than can fully encompass the message I want to write about with out reading the whole book)
So what is different about a legacy? A legacy does not have to be tangible. A legacy does not have to have my name attached. A legacy can be a moment of inspiration. A smile at the right time for the right reason. A legacy can be the beginning of a thought, that maybe 100 years from now, some one else finishes.
The world changes, so what we leave with the world may not always be relevant. But people will always need the same things, and we can do that. I can give love to one person. And that person can do the same. We may not feel it at every moment, but it is there. And it can survive.
You know how before the Olympics the torch is held and cared for by different people and finally that touch that has been held by so many lights the final torch that stays lit? I can be one of those carriers. I don’t have to be the torch. Because who alone can be this torch lit by many? But I can be a part of passing it on. I can be a part of the greater flame.
I am a part of so many people, why would I want to leave my own legacy… how boring? But to be a part of a family, a community, a generation that inspires and loves and gives some meaning to someone? That is powerful.
And doesn’t that just sound exactly to perfect. Because I can say that and I can know those are the words that should be said. In fact I have been thinking about them all day… To write something beautiful and selfless.
But it really is just bullshit. I want to leave a legacy and to be remembered. I want to do something that is meaningful and powerful and life changing and something that dominoes through generations. Something that ripples across oceans. But, I do understand that Sarah Zuidema is not a household name. And I do understand that I will never be Oprah. But I also know I will never settle. And maybe in pursuing this legacy of mine, I will become more humble, less “human”.
But I will also argue that this deep desire of mine is also a part of my healing. Because I know now that I do have something to give and something to offer. I do not need to hide in a corner and hope I am not noticed. Or try to imitate the people around me that are accepted by the norm of that day. I am allowed to be me. And I am okay with being me. And the days I am the most me, I am the most happy.
So maybe all my legacy will be just being myself. Just knowing I embraced me and lived to be me and did not let anyone else’s “legacy” get in my way.
And maybe those last 2 sentences are the perfect and beautiful words I wanted to say this entire post, but was too busy trying to say the right things to impress all ya all and maybe get a book deal. They are not humble, they are not selfless, but they are true.
And maybe it is just past my bedtime so I am rambling, but I will close with this: Any book that makes you think, that gets you to analyze yourself, your life, your choices your comfort zone is a good book. Any book or person or experience that make you look at the truth about yourself is a powerful thing.