Our Legacy

It’s a Wonderful Life Village

“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 Sage-Midgorden©2019

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.

What We Leave Behind.

Mom and Dad
Mom and Dad

“There are no victims, only volunteers.” ~ John Berger

“But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.” ~ George Eliot, Middlemarch

“It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.” ~ William Shakespeare

“I hear my father-in-law’s response: ‘Oho, fine, Whiggish sentiments, Adam. … He who would do battle with the many-headed hydra of human nature must pay a world of pain & his family must pay it along with him! & only as you grasp your dying breath shall you understand your life amounted to no more than one drop in the limitless ocean!’ Yet what is any ocean but a multitude of drops?” ~ David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas

“All the world’s at stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages.” ~ William Shakespeare

It’s Monday morning as I write this and as usual my mind is a jumble of ideas all fighting for a way out of my head. Normally, my morning routine is to get my husband off to work, then meditate, write in my journal and do tai chi, or yoga before starting my writing day. This morning I had to get these ideas down before they flitted away.

Sometimes I have felt like my little life is extremely insignificant. I guess as a teacher, I have the opportunity to influence more people than most, but still I will probably never have a large range of influence. When I was younger and felt extremely inadequate, that bothered me. I wanted to be famous and adored by millions. But as I’ve grown older and learned to love myself, I have come to see that my job was to be as loving to others as possible. That’s it. That means learning to love myself so I can be authentic when I interact with others.

Since I graduated with a religious studies degree, I’ve read lots of spirituality books. Many of the authors state that we are actually made of energy. Most of us don’t even think about the energy we are sending out into the world. We think our bodies are the container that holds us, but that is not true.

In the novel series His Dark Materials of which The Golden Compass is the first, Philip Pullman uses the device of having a character’s, daemon, or soul, outside their body. Characters have conversations with their daemons, and get advice from them. I believe it’s much the same with us and our energy. Just think about it. Haven’t you noticed situations when someone entered a room and everyone stopped for a heartbeat because they felt the energy change? They may not have known, consciously that’s why they stopped talking to look, but they did. Or haven’t you come into a room where two or more people were arguing, and it was almost as if you were slapped in the face with their anger? Aren’t there people you want to be around and others you can’t stand? It’s their energy which is either compatible with yours or not and on some level you know it.

So, we’re all here on this planet playing our parts for some reason beyond our human understanding. And every single life affects many other lives down through the ages. I see this played out on shows like Who Do You Think You Are, and Finding Your Roots. Both shows use genealogy to trace the celebrity guest’s family tree. It’s amazing the emotions that are brought up when a person discovers something about their ancestors and how what their ancestor went through has influenced their outlook on life even though they knew nothing of them before the show. Time and again I saw that no one is ever completely anonymous. The lives of those in the past have tremendous influence on people and events now.

So, if everything I’ve written above is true, we each contribute to wherever humanity is headed be it awakening or destruction. Things look pretty dismal right now if you’re only looking at the mainstream media. But I don’t think the human race is on a path over the cliff. I don’t think once we’ve expanded, we can force our larger selves back into that smaller shell. One thing I say often is that we can find the good and positive things that are happening in the world if we look for them or if we choose to look at events with new eyes. Instead of looking at horrific events and seeing only evil, look for what good came out of that event.

It feels to me like the human race is learning to walk. At first we learned to roll over and only a few people tried to make the world a better place. Then we learned to crawl and people like Jesus and Buddha came along and taught us how to truly love ourselves and others. More people understood that to defend another person is to defend yourself. Now we’re learning to walk. Many more people see through the lies that oppress groups of people.

The problems we face are so overwhelming. Maybe you’re like me and you think, what can I, just one person, do to help solve them. What I decided to do was to pick just one or two problems and put my energy into solving them. I’ve chosen education and hunger. If my money and time can influence a handful of people, the ripple effect can be enormous.

A former student of mine sent me a message the other day, reminding me of just how powerful the ripple effect one person can be. He wrote, “…you have always inspired me, both for the type of teacher you were and the type of person you are. This year I will be starting at ___ as the new Freshman English teacher and I don’t think I would have found the drive or willingness to pursue it if it wasn’t for your caring heart and inspiring work ethic. Thank you.” I’m humbled by his words and find great hope in the influence he will have on his students. He is passing on the legacy I inherited from my parents, friends and teachers, which they got from their parents, friends and teachers and on back through the ages.

You have that kind of influence on the future too.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment or share with a friend.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016