In Search of Relevance: Leaving a Meaningful Legacy

During a visit to my mother I stopped by the cemetery where my Father was buried some 14 years ago. He has a standard grave marker containing….Name, birth/passing dates, and a few words about being a loving father, devoted spouse etc. What struck me was that everyone there had a story that was being lost to antiquity. All those collective experiences gone. The lost knowledge potential staggered me.

Now we reflect. What will we leave behind? What is our legacy? How will we be remembered by those who come after us. There is comfort in knowing we made a difference in others lives and hopefully for the better. Sadly, there were only 22,000 memoirs published in the US yet there are >100M people in the country over the age of 45. Contributing to this is that documenting meaningful things that we want to pass on has been a cumbersome process.
It usually involves long tedious hours editing video tapes, curating audio, sifting through endless pictures and having to write. The landscape has changed with the smartphone. It now combines audio, video, still photo recording devices and dictation in one device. Yet, most of us still have not taken the time to organize the “Things that make up our lives”. Why? Here are some simple steps to get started.

1. Start Now and Pace Yourself.

It’s a marathon not a race. You don’t want to be trapped in a situation where you have a deadline looming or put it off till its too late. Plus as much as we would like to think of ourselves as immortal, our memories fade.

2. Put in place-holders.

Many times we think of moments and our recall is perfect and other times its not but we do remember the general context. Its OK to jot down what your remember now and then fill it in during a moment of greater clarity. Start a story and edit it later. You also may remember names or more details or find old photos that you want to add so having the story gets your mind thinking of additional details.

3. Go through your Milestones and list your top stories in each.

That gives you a backlog of things to document. It also starts conversations with other family members about the event that will lead to new insights or details as well as great conversations.

4. Go through your photos, either on your phone or the ones in scrapbooks and boxes and put them in envelopes or add them to a story placeholder.

This way you don’t have to find them again nor will they get lost later.

5. Interview your older relatives and get their stories on video snippet.

Or if they can handle a smartphone show them the app and how to use the auto-dictation feature. We don’t last forever and there is no better time than during the holidays to get a few of these stories memorialized. You will never regret taking the time to do it, but will regret missing the chance later.

6. List the top 10 things you want your kids to know at a specific age and send them a time-capsule.

The beauty of this feature is that you can edit it as well to keep the information relevant as they grow up.

7. Pick a Birthday or Anniversary or Holiday in the future and send a post ahead in time.

It will definitely be a point of discussion once the day arrives that it is published as it will be emotionally moving for you and the recipient.

We are in a new age where we can now pass on our experieinces and share them directly with future generations. The call to action is to get started. Life is short but full of events and we can make a difference to our future generations by sharing our valuable experiences.