Most of us will be forgotten. The people we tend to celebrate in society are those who made global or regional impacts. Presidents are remembered worldwide. Sports stars are remembered regionally. Business leaders and philanthropists are recognized locally.
The idea that most of us are eventually forgotten bothers me. I don’t like thinking that and I don’t like saying that. My fingers pain typing that, but sadly I think it’s true.
So what are we left to do?
We can set goals and try our best to achieve them with the hope they will affect someone in a small way. And maybe just maybe those small ways will take hold of a mass of humanity and become something really big.
What if our idea doesn’t reach the masses? Well, then we are left to ourselves again – and our families.
I once told my friends father: I don’t want to be rich. I want to be immortal.
As I approach my mid-life crisis, I understand that the sands through the hour-glass are picking up speed. The clock is ticking. How can I leave a legacy for my son? Do I have enough time?
When I think of the mega-minds in my community who have done something ever-lasting, they involve money, but they are not self-serving necessarily.
· Bud Selig brought baseball to Milwaukee and also become commissioner to improve the game he loves.
· Herb Kohl rescued the Milwaukee Bucks and made impacts as a U.S. Senator..
· The Bradley family has made a list of local contributions here in Milwaukee that could be reserved for another blog post entirely.
· The beer Baron’s Pabst, Blatz, Schlitz and Miller put Milwaukee on the map.
Realistically though, not many of us will be iconic like those listed, but we can impact our immediate circle. We can hopefully leave something lasting for our children. And that lasting thing doesn’t have to be a material thing.
Most of what I know about the Legacy – from those around me – has nothing to do with material things. What I know about legacy has more to do with lasting images, adventures and memories. What I know about a good legacy has more to do with how people carry themselves and what their values are – not what they bought or built to leave behind.
My parents have a spectacular lakefront home located in a treasured place. But if the cabin vanished, all the wonderful memories would remain. Those could never be taken away. It is a material thing that sets the memory in motion, but in the end it is only a component of what the actual legacy is. Many of the special moments shared at the cabin could still be created without the cabin. I say this not at all to diminish its importance. What I mean is that people make Legacy’s not things.
To have dinner with family across the lake at our favorite restaurant doesn’t take the ownership of a cabin. You can dine lakeside and not own anything and create fantastic memories on your own.
What the heck is the point in all this?
The point is: Not many of us will be iconic titans of industry, buy sports teams or build tall buildings to be donated to our city or build beautiful cabins in the woods, but each of us can work hard enough to create a glorious, positive memory or two for our children that will last more than a day or two.
My son jumped in the back of my car one summer Saturday afternoon and said:
“Dad, how come every time we get in the car we do something fun?”
(Damn, that felt good.)
“Because life should be about having fun,” I said. “And I want you to have a great life!”
He sort of smiled and looked out the window in thought; trying to figure out what I meant.
That’s when I realized maybe I didn’t need to leave my son a business or build a cabin in the woods to have a legacy. Maybe my legacy is just to be a beacon of fun in his life.
Legacy of Fun…Has a nice ring to it.