I recently attended the funeral of a relative. It wasn’t the first time I was paying my respects to someone who had passed on, but for some reason (maybe it’s because I’m now older) this experience got me thinking about my mortality. And the midst of the eulogy and the words that were said about the departed soul, I couldn’t help but ponder over legacy as well…specifically, what my own would be.
Over the last 25 years, life for me has been about accomplishment. How that came about, I’m not sure. But my middle to high school days and beyond, much of my existence has been about academic and professional results. And in between all of that, I was a son, brother and eventually a husband and father. This has brought about some balance (although I have to admit that the drive for accomplishment bleeds easily into my personal life, for example pushing the kids to be better at school, better at sports and more respectful, more courteous and more disciplined than they already are). On the whole, while my family balances me out, I’m not quite sure that it’s quite enough.
At the funeral, the words that were said around the departed’s legacy were more around who he was as a person, the kind of uncle he was, the kind of husband he was — in summary, the kind of human being he was. And I kept thinking to myself that while the pursuit of professional success doesn’t make me less of a human being, it might make me less successful in being the human being that I could be.
My wife constantly reminds me to smell the roses. This week, I’m smelling them at Disneyworld, where we’re spending a few days together along with extended family. I crib (mostly in my head but can’t avoid a snarky comment here and there) about the marketing machine and money pit that Disney is. But one thing is certain: The family loves not having to share me with work. And I’m really enjoying spending this time with them. Perhaps this is a clue on how a reasonable legacy can be created.
PS: Here’s an insightful post by an Indian blogger. While some of her examples are based on Indian contexts, the broader message is universal.