“True leaders don’t invest in buildings. Jesus never built a building. They invest in people. Why? Because success without a successor is failure. So your legacy should not be in buildings, programs, or projects; your legacy must be in people.” ~ Myles Munroe
The other day in acting class, a former acting student of mine came by with a friend of hers who is in my current class. She wanted to give me a hug and tell me how much she loved me. I felt embarrassed that I didn’t remember her name, though I do remember her quite distinctly.
As this year has begun, I’ve felt off balance, unsettled, burned out, and perhaps that I have failed to contribute much to making this world a better place. Then, in walks a former student out of the blue to tell me how much being in my class all those semesters ago still means to her.
The next day I was listening to Oprah interview Bradley Cooper on an episode of Super Soul Sunday. Of course, Oprah was asking Bradley about his experience of making A Star in Born, and the Oscar nominations for various people who had worked on the movie. The conversation turned to the idea of legacy. Oprah related again what she learned from Maya Angelou. We never know what our legacy will be. That idea made me feel so much better.
For quite some time, I have been chomping at the bit to quit teaching and work only on my writing. I’ve wanted just a little bit different life than the one I’m living at present. That’s not a happy place to be.
But I realized that because I’ve been focusing on the future instead of the present moment, I’ve been completely oblivious to the fact that maybe my efforts as a teacher over the years have had a positive impact on the lives of my students and I should be grateful for that.
I don’t have children. Most people think of their children as their legacy, but going back to Oprah and Bradley’s discussion, there are other kinds of legacy. He told Oprah how much of an impact she had on his life as he began watching her show as a preteen. He credits her with helping him understand how to be a good human being. If we can be a positive influence on people’s lives, that is one of the best legacies we can leave behind. Perhaps that’s why stories of ordinary people affecting even small changes one person at a time are my favorite.
Every year, I weep at the end of It’s A Wonderful Life. If you can believe it, that movie didn’t do well at the box office when it first came out. But look how it has endured. Watching that movie is a Christmas tradition in many a family. And I believe that consuming positive content is much better than entertainment that is negative in nature. What we watch becomes a part of us. It’s A Wonderful Life has become a part of our collective psyche, which makes me happy.
I’ve been thinking about that too. Maybe I need to better curate all the news and entertainment I consume. Even social media has lost appeal for me. I don’t mind reading about the things my friends are doing, but I’m so tired of the political and personal sniping back and forth that peppers social media. When I see something like that, I just scroll right on by. I like to support my friends by posting encouragement and positive comments on their posts.
And one more thing, I have to accept the fact that I will always experience a tension between where I am at the moment, and where I want to be. I was reminded of that this week too. None of us will ever come to a place where peace reigns all the time. Humans aren’t built like that. We’re always looking for the next thing to learn, or place to explore, or adventure to experience.
In the end, Maya Angelou is right, we will never know the full impact our lives have had on those around us. It’s okay with me if mine is small. I don’t need to be famous but I do want to leave people feeling better about themselves after meeting me, taking one of my classes, or reading something I’ve written.
Thanks for reading what I’ve been thinking lately. I appreciate your likes and comments. Have a blessed weekend.
Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a little bit like Outlander in that it’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, novel. Only Jenna joins consciousness with her three-times great-grandmother, Morgan, instead of traveling physically. She is able to come back at intervals and apply what she’s learned to her own life situations.
The Space Between Time is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, or you can find the ebook at iBooks or Barnes and Noble. If you prefer a physical copy, you can find a print-on-demand version at Amazon. Stay tuned for news on the audiobook version Lucinda is working on. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.