“Legacy is not leaving something for people, it’s leaving something in people.”
– Peter Strople
“The goal isn’t to live forever, it is to create something that will.”
– Chuck Plahniuk
These quotes are a great reminder to me that no one gets to where they are in life without the influence of another. They have resonated even more for me recently as I’ve been thinking a lot about how I have gotten to where I am today and who has helped me get here.
The months of April, August, and December tend to inspire such introspection as they mark the birthdays and deaths of my maternal grandparents. They emigrated from Portugal to this country as a young married couple with a toddler in the 1950’s. The next nearly fifty years were spent sponsoring the immigration of their relatives, anchoring a Portuguese community in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and working hard to raise a family and provide them with the opportunities they never had. My grandparents had a profound impact on me through their examples of leadership, hard work, and dedication to family. That was their legacy, and I owe a lot to them for it.
We all have examples of such great influences in our lives. They are family, friends, and sometimes just a random chance encounter. However, some of them, like my grandparents, have since passed away.
So how can we say thank you for the life lessons and legacy they left?
You can pay it forward.
Start by thinking of those in your life who have impacted you in a positive manner? Maybe it is a person or people you haven’t thought of in a while. It could be a family member, a teacher, a neighbor, an old friend, or a passing stranger with whom you had a random yet profound interaction. Whomever it is, take some time to reflect on that person and the impact they have had on you. Think not only of the person, but your experiences with them and what they meant to you. Be grateful for these memories and be mindful of the lessons they imparted whether directly or indirectly.
Now, take it one step further. Write it down. “But I’m not a writer or I don’t have time to journal”, you say. Then, record it. Use your smart phone; it’s that easy.
Whether you write it or record it, make your memories tangible. You will be thankful later when you are able to easily revisit them whenever you want or need to. In addition, the exercise of making your memories tangible has its own unique benefits you can only experience by doing it.
Best of all, though, you will be paying it forward by preserving and passing along the same life lessons others have given you so that future generations can benefit as well.
Keep Being Amazing!
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Kevin Snyder is a husband, father, and an Orange County estate planning attorney and elder law attorney. He is all about family and has a passion for educating his community. He enjoys helping people protect what matters most and inspiring them to be the best versions of themselves they can be.