One morning recently, I found my thoughts drifting into unusual mental territory. What set the stage for this was a quote I came across in my morning reading from an ancient Greek statesman, Pericles, which read: "What we leave behind is not what is etched in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others."
As I read this, two lines of thought immediately flashed into mind. The first focused on the many people who have had a profound influence in my life. I was compelled to close my eyes as this first line of thought came, and in doing so I literally began to see a parade of faces, each of which belonged to an individual who had woven themself, their knowledge, their quality of character, and their passion for excellence into the fiber of my life. I felt such gratitude from this experience that my heart was overwhelmed... and I spent time thanking God for their influence in my journey, and even took time to write a few of them to let them know of their impact on me personally. Those were marvelous exchanges, several of which were long overdue. I could sense it really meant a lot for them to hear from me and to learn of their lasting impact in my life and career.
The second line of thinking that emerged, was a bit of a look in the mirror. I began to think about my own efforts and life pursuits, and what I value most. My mind tracked back through the last thirty years of life experience, and from my current vantage point I was able to identify many moments of change that took place in my value system and map of the world, much like the turning of a page. I was also able to see how those changes affected my day-to-day dealings with others.
As I've grown older, I have begun to experience what I suspect many others also experience: a change of focus away from material possessions, appearances, and status, to one of legacy and lasting influence. What floats-my-boat today is investing my time and energy in pursuits that challenge and change people's current state of awareness in a way produces a higher quality of inner-life.
Pericles' wisdom was spot-on in my book. All the other stuff in our life will tarnish, break, or burn, but what we weave into the lives of others will know no end.
The very best stuff we pass along will survive generations.
Now that's Legacy!