Anyone with a chronic illness will struggle with the idea of success, worth, validation, importance, legacy …
Many times it feels like any chances of having a “full” life or successful life is completely beyond our reach. Especially when we compare it to today’s standards.
It can be quite depressing and sad for many of us who have had to lose or give up so much, to think our lives or existence is not looked upon as valuable by others.
I recall a relative telling me that “… It’s a shame you didn’t have children and something to leave behind, something to be proud of…” It was meant to be a way of telling me my life was wasted and empty. Yet, to my credit, I didn’t feel the need to have myself assessed like that and at the time I was really quite enjoying my time and interests. Strange isn’t it. The contrast in opinions. But whose opinion is more important??
I replayed comments like these many times since then and it is only today that I really feel like I am closer to my true answer. An answer I believe in. An answer that I feel makes sense.
As I sat in my shower contemplating life (like you do) I realized that whatever I leave behind is immaterial to me compared to how much I enjoy my time on this earth. How people will choose to remember me will mean nothing to me after I am gone. I will only ever know my conscious experience.
Quite simply, the best legacy I can leave is a life that I enjoyed to the best of my ability. A life I responded to. A life I adapted to. And a life I found peace with. Whatever people think about that is completely up to them and outside my control.
For centuries the world has been shaped by those driven to create a legacy, a fortune, a name, a reputation, an empire, a lasting monument to their life and today we see some of the sad, destructive and painful affects of centuries of this thinking. Even today, the need to measure success is getting harder and the bar is always being raised higher and higher.
But that doesn’t always mean that people are living their authentic selves and enjoying their time while they fight for every drop of ‘What’s my legacy’.
My own mother was deeply ambitious and wanted to amass a fortune and leave a name and property all over the state. And an heir to run it all in her name. But when she died, quite young, there was no fortune or many properties dotted about the place with her name on it… But I truly hope, for her sake, she enjoyed her time on this earth.
It seems to me that this is after all our TRUE legacy. And that is how much we enjoyed our limited time on this earth.
It’s not the fortune. It’s not the title. It’s not the millions of fans. Time will always forget this. In fact the most consistent thing about history is that we forget the lessons of our forefathers. We repeat our mistakes. We all forget… In time.
Rich or poor, sick or healthy, big or small, we all have one life to live and how we enjoy and make use of that time is the great leveler. What we get out of our experience and how we feel about our time on this earth is really the only conscious thing we have control over.
As I sit here, I find peace. I am happy with what I have done with my healthy times and I am proud of how I have dealt with the challenges and pain. I am loving and I am loved. I have adapted. I have done all that I can with what I have. I will always be looking for things to learn and do and ways to make that possible. And for me, that means more than what people will do or think about me after I have gone.
We are a living legacy and what we think of our own lives is more important than what others think of our lives are worth.
Being my authentic self is the greatest thing I can achieve in my life time and that is what I try to do each day.
That’s my opinion anyway…