The most piercing thought any of us have is that some day we won’t be here.
Some day, instead of sitting here looking out at the Shenandoah Mountain, I will be gone from this earth. Someone else will be looking through this window.
In the words of poet Jane Kenyon, “all morning I did/the work I love,” but one day “it will be otherwise.”
What will my life add up to? What will be my legacy? My greatest gift to the world?
And you? What will yours be?
Today I am sending you a blog post written by one of my young mentors: Dan Blank.
I subscribe to Dan’s free weekly newsletter. I highly recommend that you do the same — even if you aren’t a writer.
Dan’s newsletter is one of the few that I savor every week from beginning to end. His interests range widely, and he always makes me think, laugh, and sometimes even wipe a tear.
As I got to know Dan through these weekly letters to his readers, I took the next step, signing up for his six-week course called Build Your Author Platform. I learned a lot and met some other wonderful writers.
Dan’s most recent blog post, about legacy, touched me in a special way. I hope you enjoy his ideas about legacy as much as I did, and I hope you leave a comment either on his blog or this one (or both!).
Your Legacy is Written in the Thoughts, Attitudes, and Actions of Others
Posted on November 30, 2012 by Dan Blank
What was, is. But is not as it was.
I think a lot about the past. About what came before.
What is left.
What holds on.
What we can hold in our hands, still, after decades. And what we cannot.
About what these things represent. And that which is gone, which still lives in our minds and actions.
As I work with writers, I am reminded. That your platform is what exists in people’s minds. Not just in the manifestations of what you create: a twitter feed; a blog; or even (dare I say) a book.
When you strip a person of everything they own. Everything they are. Everyone they know. Everywhere that is comfortable. What is left is what is in their mind/heart/soul, and what they choose to do with it. (hat tip: Victor Frankl)
For some reason, we tend to seek immediate popularity. Validation. Recognition. And sure, that is interesting. Merely interesting.
But what lasts is what is intriguing to me. What lives beyond us after we leave a room; after someone puts down your book; after they no longer follow you on Twitter.
What ideas. Inspiration. Information. Character. Which of these stays with them. Morphs. Changes. Effects their actions in small ways, even years later. Decades later. And how do their actions and attitudes affect those around them. From generation to generation.
Your legacy. At once hidden in tiny actions. But profound in how it has shaped people’s lives.
What you are is not what I see. It is what lies below the surface.
I have been obsessed with old Hollywood. How it started. Who started it. Do you remember the Keystone Cops? Charlie Chaplin’s character “the tramp?” These were some of the most popular comedy brands of the silent era of film.
Continue reading Dan’s post to learn how he connects these silent era films with the idea of leaving a legacy in the minds and hearts of others.
Then come back and help me think through these ideas: If our legacy goes beyond any artifact, including any book, how do we live now so that we positively impact the thoughts, attitudes, and actions of others? Whose legacy is living in you now?