Your Legacy As A Self Portrait
While you enjoy being an active member of society your personal legacy may seem a vague and distant something to be gathered up and nurtured at a later date. In the traditional sense a person’s legacy was commonly defined by attorneys and accountants as the money and property a person handed down to others in a will, and little more. In modern times the legacy is more generally understood to be all that you build up and leave behind to your friends and relatives and to the world at large – like sweet memories, good deeds and notable achievements as well as money and property. After all, your life has much more to it than the dull dry remnants of an accountant’s log or files at an attorney’s office – it is all about how you live, what you do and have done and what you have experienced and shared with others. Most especially it is about the good stories of your life.
Your life is full of daily experiences and activities punctuated from time to time by special events, occasions or life moments. As such it is contained in the vastness and vagueness of your memories as well as the photo albums and other documentation that lie scattered about in your house – awaiting your attention. Much of what is special about you and your life is known to no one or to just a few – and not too accurately at that. Even you have difficulty from time to time recalling and putting together an event, story or happening of the past in a coherent fashion. Yet you live on day to day too busy to worry too much about the past while the present is pressing so hard for your minute by minute attention. In the meantime your self portrait is often more populated by the crisis you have overcome and the challenges you still face than by the great moments and experiences of those special times and special days that have made your life so worthwhile and memorable.
Many would say that all of that should be captured in a biography, vita or resume as an accurate transcript of what has transpired in your life. To which others might say poppycock, as life is not lived nor remembered at all in that way. To do so is to trivialize ones life and reduce it to the accountable needs of big government or the corporate state – not to the wants and needs of individual human beings. While biographies and resumes are of value and surely have their place they are external documents about the external affairs of a person, and thus to a large degree lifeless and without spirit. So what is to take its place, what form has the capacity to capture a person’s life in a more internal, humanistic and emotional way. A good place to start is with a personal legacy in the form of a self portrait!
A self portrait of most persons would tell their story in a colorful and artistic way. While facts and time sequences are of some use, a focus on these elements tends to paint a very flat and dull scene. Instead using a lens that magnifies some memories and some events while ignoring or diminishing the role played by others is much closer to the way most people view their lives and their past. By adding a bit of color and some good stories told to effect things begin to get interesting. By making an effort to be highly selective about what to include and what to ignore and how to portray what is kept, the legacy gains focus and clarity. Indeed few people these days have the time, interest or patience to go through a lengthy photo album or biography. Instead what is needed is a crafted sized down version of one’s story based on a highly distilled and crystallized foundation of material that is lively, interesting and entertaining – while at the same time capturing in an honest way the essence of a person and their achievements and experiences in life.
A good legacy in the form of a life portrait can and often should be artistic, non-linear, non-sequential, non-inclusive and non-monotone, but colorful and dramatic with a focus on what is and was special and noteworthy. A bit of self-reflection on good lessons learned and good practices to follow as advice to others can also be most valuable. Especially, when the audience includes the younger and future generations.