A GIFT ONLY WE CAN GIVE
(This bit of fluff first appeared on these pages several years ago. Now, even deeper into Elderhood, it seems more appropriate than ever.)
Sure, I do fuss a lot about our late-life challenge to keep Becoming more than we are. I believe there are ways we can continue to grow, even improve, at our age. Still, I must admit there are times when I wonder how an old fossil like me can pull that off....when it feels like those doubts have the upper hand.
Then, of course, there are times when I come face to face with the sad reality of how much I can no longer do……..those moments when my mind’s ‘want to’ is trumped by my body’s “can’t do.” In those sometimes depressing instances it is hard to believe there is still any meaningful Becoming left in me.
So how do we carry on as late-lifer ‘Becomers’ when the clock and calendar seem to be working against us? Among the many possibilities is one that only we, you and I, each of us on our own, can make happen. Fact is, no matter how age has slowed us down we will continue to create and refine our personal legacy.
Take a moment to consider the notion of “legacy.” The formal definition speaks of “Something transmitted by or received from a predecessor.” On a personal level we are talking about our life, the way we live, and how that affects those whose lives we touch.
Passing on our unique, very personal life experiences and the lessons we have learned, is something no one else can do for us. As elder members of our personal sphere of influence we are always in the process of creating and refining that legacy……the lasting impressions and lessons we bequeath to those whose lives we impact. Whether by words, writing, or loving example our personal legacy is a gift only we can give.
I mentioned in an earlier post a book I was reading…….William H Thomas’ “What Are Old People For?” One of his most important answers to that title question reads as follows….“The first task of elderhood is the creation of a legacy that can serve others and be handed down to those who have yet to be born.”
Barry Barkan, founder of the Live Oak Community, puts it this way….“An elder is a person whose work is to gather wisdom from long-life experience and formulate it into a legacy for future generations.”
I would submit that each of us, in our own way, is capable of doing exactly that every day of our elder life. Certainly no one else can do that for us. A lifetime of words, deeds, and attitudes…..of choices made….has shaped the nature of our legacy and continues to do so to this day.
For better or worse, our presence in the lives of family and close friends has and will continue to have an impact. There is no way to avoid leaving our stamp, however modest, on every life we touch. A lifetime of choices made has created the wake that marks our life journey, shaping our individual Becoming and the legacy we pass on to our inheritors.
We live in a world that is too often seems unwilling to accept that we October/November souls have anything left to offer. Perhaps we sometimes nurse those same questions. Yet we ought not doubt the fact that our life’s example…..the legacy we are still creating, has an impact……while serving as an indelible sign of our own continued Becoming.