Being a writer for me, is a bit like being a free range chicken. Unlike the caged and cooped up kind, us free rangers are allowed to wander around, foraging for food and generally enjoying a much better kind of life. As a free range kind of a writer, I'm generally to be found wandering around, feasting on little tidbits of writing inspiration. This week's inspiration came in the shape of Ms Oprah Winfrey as she celebrated turning 60 this week. I was reflecting on all that she has achieved as an African American woman, just 3 generations away from slavery and the word 'legacy' dropped into my mind. I looked it up and it means anything handed down from the past, especially an ancestor or predecessor. As I thought about it, I realised how important it is to consider what our legacy will be.
Legacy is planning how we we will impact the future, starting in the here and now. Presidents, Heads of State, know the importance of this. Usually when they begin their final term in office, there's that one thing that they want to focus on and push through, almost to the exclusion of everything else. It's usually something pretty grand, because let's face it, we all want to make an impact and what better way than with a super new law or initiative? If I had to guess, I'd say that President Obama's legacy is the reform of the healthcare sector in America, through 'Obamacare'. Whatever our legacy is, it has to be big enough to stand the test of time.
Whatever we decide to do legacy really comes into it's own, when we're gone. Either because we're dead or no longer in the position we once were. What we leave as a legacy is for future generations. That's important, because what we leave, becomes their foundation, so that they can go further than we did. And that's how people change their community and the world around them. As someone has already said, "life is too short to learn everything by experience".
Lest you start to think that leaving a legacy is only for the powerful, let me remind you that we all have people within our spheres of influence, who we will leave a legacy for. Children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, the list goes on. Whether we believe it or not, we will all leave a legacy, the question is will it be good or bad? Will it stand the test of time? Will it be a strong enough foundation, for the next generation to build on? Will it help them get farther, faster?
Love her or hate her, there's no denying that Ms Winfrey will leave a huge legacy and the challenge for us is to start building our own legacies. We may not be chat show hosts, own our own media empire or be billionaires, but we can make a difference, one person at a time.
The title of this week's post is a sporting metaphor, which means to "go all out, give everything you've got, risking it all". It doesn't matter how you start, or whether you start big or small, just go for it and start building your legacy now.
Until next week, go well.