Lately I’ve been surrounded by friends and acquaintances facing final phases of life.
The approach of the final years of their career. The final months of life. The ending of hopes or fantasy. The miscarriage of a dream.
Endings. Frustrations. Regrets.
Every single one of them voiced the question or something like it
‘what’s my legacy?‘
Followed by some distress or frustration that they feel their desired legacy has not been achieved. Their expectation or desire to affect people, their sector or professional environment they’ve invested their self and life in, doesn’t seem to be panning out like they’ve wanted. And they’re frustrated. Which can cover anger.
Most have actually expressed anger. Angry that other people haven’t ‘got’ their message or the desired insight or understanding. Their anger is real. Their distress is heavy. I couldn’t look away.
In the past month I’ve turned 48 years old myself and I wondered, is this frustration about ‘legacy’ coming from me? As a principle in life, what you see or notice, is what’s within.
Without a doubt, I’d like to make a difference in this world. I like the idea that I’m leaving some kind of lasting effect on humanity. A legacy.
Yet, I’ve never thought that was under my control, while my friends seem to have the assumption they have control over ‘their legacy’ and that they can ‘leave a legacy’ of their choice.
As I mulling this over, I heard a very different perspective.
They’re distressed because they think they can make their legacy.
Legacy is not about what you want or seek. You receive a legacy from other people after you leave. You can’t plan it.
When I heard this, it turned things around completely.
If not a focus on ‘a legacy’, I asked, then what?
‘on the watch’
Deep down, I felt it. Ahhh yes. This made complete sense.
This nautical phrase, from military command on a ship where time is divided into ‘watches’, says that anything that happens on that officer’s ‘watch’ is their responsibility. They have the charge of the ship during that time. For good or bad. For success or disaster.
And then the other shoe dropped.
While legacy is bestowed on us after death from the living. The only ‘legacy’ we can choose to focus on is doing our best on this watch.
These days, my watch is extending not only to the material world, but the worlds beyond.
Things that bring me a sense of achievement, comfort or pleasure now – food, sex, certain actions, substances – don’t translate to a state without form, body, senses, or other corporal effect. The disincarnate state.
What translates over?
I’ve started spending time working on skills that translate.
Now is the time on this watch, to do this work.
I am my own undertaker in life.
4 August 2017