Friday, January 18, 2013

Leaving A Legacy

Dr. Stephen Covey wrote that people are motivated by four basic human needs: to live, to love, to learn and to leave a legacy. As we continue looking at planting the seeds of intention for the second half of life, I thought this idea would be the perfect place to begin talking about what it is we really, really want. So let's take a look at these four basic human needs:

To Live - to provide for oneself the basic physical needs: shelter, food, health, work, etc.

To Love - to connect with others, be it family, friends or community; to love and be loved as a way of expressing who we are.

To Learn - to grow and develop, to stretch out minds beyond the average every day things; to dare to dream.

To leave a Legacy - ah, now we're at the meat of the conversation, aren't we? This is the place where we question what the meaning of our existence is and what we want to leave behind as a way of saying, "I was here and I made a difference."

So often we think that if we're just good people, raise our kids, pay our bills and set a good example, we've done enough, and I'm not saying that there is anything wrong with that. In fact, if more people would adopt that philosophy, I know the world would be a more peaceful, loving place. But I believe deeply in my heart that most of us wonder what those we leave behind will remember about us or how their lives will benefit because we were here. As I was getting ready to write this, synchronicity showed up as it always does, just when I need it, and I got a phone call from my oldest daughter with a story that is a prime example of what I'm saying.

My oldest grandson, Mason, age 13, is a musician. He plays trumpet. Okay, he doesn't just "play" trumpet. He loves to play trumpet. His special love is jazz. When other kids his age are listening to rap and rock bands, Mason is listening to Chris Botti and Wynton Marsalis. He not only plays in the school band, but last year he made the Jr. County Orchestra on his first try, taking 10th chair. In addition to his music teacher at school, Mason was being mentored by a professional jazz trumpeter who has played all over the world with the likes of Liza Minelli and Frank Sinatra. His name is Bobby and he found that place in Mason where the music lived and brought it out. Sadly, a few months ago, Bobby died quite unexpectedly. Mason was devastated. Last night he had to audition once again and the thought of doing it without his beloved mentor shook him to the core. He came out of it in tears believing that he had done a terrible job and that, "I just can't do it without Bobby," He was ready to hang up his trumpet. This morning my daughter got an e-mail from Mason's music teacher ... third chair! Mason's music is Bobby's legacy to the world.

I'm not saying everybody has to be a musician, or an artist, or a writer. I'm not saying that everyone has to be great although life coach Cheryl Richardson would say that we shouldn't settle for good when we can have great. What I am saying is that what we do with our lives will send a message to someone that says, "see, it's all worth it. Just do what you love and don't settle." My own hope is that I will leave a legacy for my children and grandchildren that says age is just a number, dreams never die and your circumstances do not dictate your future. If you think it, you can do it.

"Don't die with your music still in you."   Dr. Wayne Dyer

And so it is.