Monday, March 18, 2013

What is Your Legacy?

I am in Orlando, FL this week for a series of meetings and our Back to Campus show for work. Two friends and I came down a day (and a half) early to get our geek on and go to Universal Studios "Wizarding World of Harry Potter" before joining colleagues nationwide tomorrow for a week of learning, networking and seeing the latest trends in merchandise.

This morning, I woke up a little later than normal. I am sitting outside this morning, all by my onesies, next to a fountain at my hotel. I have a cup of coffee in my hand and am just enjoying listening to the birds chirp and the rustle of the fronds of the palm trees. I brought along my latest Entertainment Weekly Magazine to pass the time and was reading an article entitled "Honoring TV Legend Valerie Harper". In case you didn't know; Harper, who is best known as TV's "Rhoda" from first The Mary Tyler Moore Show and then a spin-off of her own, recently announced that she has terminal brain cancer. The article is a beautiful testament to Harper's living legacy both as a television star and as a person. It's best summed up in this quote from producer James L. Brooks who said "Val always just lived. She spills support. It was almost excessive. All she ever did was pour out love and support." I think it's beautiful that this article is running now, while Ms. Harper is still alive to read it rather than as an "In Memorium" after her death.

Reading the article, which has dozens of quotes like this from friends and colleagues, got me thinking. If I were terminally ill or (God Forbid) to die tomorrow, what would people say about me? What legacy am I leaving behind for the people I have met? What would the people I have worked with, been friends with, people I have loved, say about me? I know what I hope they would say- but have I truly embodied the spirit of what I wish to be?

Here's the other thing running through my mind: Aren't we all "terminal" in a way? None of us is getting out of this alive, so why don't we tell one another how they have touched our lives? Wouldn't it be lovely to know if you have had a positive effect on someone before you leave this world? Wouldn't it be constructive to find out that you have negatively impacted someone so that you could make amends or repair that relationship? Not many of us are "celebrities" in the true sense of the word so it certainly need not be a public thing- but don't we all have people who have had a starring role in our lives? Don't we all have people who have had an impact on us without them even knowing it? As I write this, I think about a teacher I had in high school (a hundred years ago) who, at the time, I felt really believed in me. Oh, she may not remember me (it truly was 30 years and hundreds of students ago) but I remember her and the way she made me feel like I was truly better than the work I was doing. She woke me up to the fact that I was smarter than I was letting on in an effort to "fit in" with my crowd and that I didn't have to hide it. She never knew that she reached me. At 15-16 I never would have thought to let her know.

Why don't we tell them? What's stopping us from reaching out to the people that have been (and still are) important to us and letting them know how much they have meant to our lives? There is nothing "wrong" with it, nothing to be embarrassed about. I think what I will do is do a "Google search" on this teacher and just send her a card thanking her for what she did for me. Perhaps I will take it a step further and reach out to others who are meaningful in my life and do the same.

This is a challenge- for you and for myself. Tell one person who impacted you how they have made a difference in your life. Let them know because they may not realize it at all and it could really brighten their day. You can send them a card, write them a letter, or shoot them an email if you are too self conscious to say it in person. Just let them know now, before it's too late.

Have a lovely day!


kathy gabriel said...

Coincidence or what ... ?

I just posted a similar 'invitation' on my blog and then I read yours.
Good energy is getting around!

That is a good legacy.

Victoria said...

This is really a beautiful invitation! I actually just read something similar in the book by Rhonda Byrne, "Magic." I can think of several people who have impacted my life in positive ways. Now, I need to put my thoughts to paper and let them know :)