Tell me the story of finding your legacy
June 12, 2018 8:47 AM   Subscribe

I want to leave a legacy. So first, I need to find out what my legacy will be, and then go about making it happen. Tell me the story of how you explored/decided/began making a legacy!

I'm north of 50 years old and don't have any children. I know for many people, having a family, --having children and perhaps grandchildren-- is a great way of leaving a legacy. It is so nice to leave something to the world that lasts beyond the years you lived. But that's not going to happen for me. Other people leave great sums of money to charities or universities, or set up a trust. Again, that is not likely to happen for me. And besides, I want to start making a difference *now*, not after I'm gone.

So, please inspire me. Tell me the story of how you figured out what legacy you wanted to leave, and how you went about making it happen. Or is it still happening? Did you change your mind? Did you try something new? What trial and error process did you go through?

I've read a couple good articles about this:

Living Your Legacy: How Will You Touch Others’ Lives?


Find Your Purpose and Live Your Legacy

but I think I learn better through story-telling. Please share your story. Thank you!
posted by BeBoth to Human Relations (3 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
And besides, I want to start making a difference *now*, not after I'm gone.

I think a good first step is to unpack this - a difference to whom? How do you want things to change? This speaks very highly to what matters to you. Try to boil this down from big stuff like "make the world a better place" to tangible things like "I want to make sure every child has enough to eat."

To be honest - I think the people in my life and my mentors who have a strong legacy were not doing it for the purpose of being remembered or "having a legacy" - the actions of their lives lined up with how they wanted the world to be. They were consistent and committed to showing up and didn't wait for a vision of their legacy to start, say, volunteering at the soup kitchen or giving money to a specific charity if that aligned with what they wanted the world to be like.
posted by notorious medium at 9:03 AM on June 12, 2018 [7 favorites]

I have no idea if anything I do will be around ten mins after I'm gone, thats not something that is within my control, so I dont exactly think of things as a legacy per se, but I am currently, and have for 8 years previously, working very hard to norish and improve the soils, plant life, habitats (eccosystem may be a better word) in the yards of each house where I've lived. I follow (roughly) the ideals of permaculture, where the goal is to provide good food, shelter and a healthy place to live, to not just humans, but to many, many living things. Improving soils helps sequester CO2, reducing dependence on synthisized fertilizers, herbacides and pesticides improves water quality amoung other things, raising some food reduces the need for factory farmed animals and reduces suffering. I also vollunteer to help show other people how to do these things in their own yards. These are tiny things but I get the satisfaction of seeing them make a big difference in my immediate surroundings. For example, I improved the soil's water holding capacity at my old house to the point that the house no longer flooded during heavy rains as it did when I first moved in and the yard was a bare square of dirt and crab grass.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 11:36 AM on June 12, 2018 [5 favorites]

I wasn't trying to build a legacy when I talked openly about the racism I observed and experienced in the Australian burlesque scene. I was just trying to make some space for myself as one of the very few performers of colour, wanting to do her own work without being typecast as one of two archetypes, wanting to not see my cultures or other cultures bastardized.

I lost a career. I lost a city. I moved, seeking a fresh start. I got that fresh start, with people who understood where I was coming from, where I felt less alone. I moved again (due to bureaucracy) and again found the people I needed, though it was a little harder. The people from before still have not owned up to anything, still won't acknowledge the harm they caused.

Today I had a conversation with someone who was in my old city about the experiences I faced during my time there. She too is a burlesque performer of colour who has been outspoken about racism and appropriation, and - unlike me - she now has allies that support her when she speaks up.

I told her, she's lucky, it's good to hear that there are changes because I was alone.
She said to me: "thank you for paving the way to make it easier for people like me".

That's my legacy. Not one I deliberately tried to design. Not one I would have chosen necessarily. But one that came out of passion and true desire and need. One that came at great cost. But one that, nearly a decade later, paid off.
posted by divabat at 6:34 AM on June 14, 2018 [2 favorites]

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