Living Into Legacy
Updated: Apr 8
Walking in the redwoods. I am drawn to a circle of eleven trees with the decaying remains of a huge stump in the center, easily eight feet across: the Mama. This is legacy, the trees tell me. Centuries after the Mother Tree is gone, the children that rose from her nourishing root stand tall and strong together, with their own tender progeny forming a ring around them at their feet. Even when the body of the Mother Tree has crumbled completely back into the soil, her presence will live on through those generations, as she herself grew from the life-force and bodies of those before her... Legacy.
How do we measure the impact of our lives? As I write this question, the answer I hear is “in faithfulness.” It's not the answer I expected, nor one I have heard before in considering this question. Yet it makes so much sense. We may not ever know the number of people we touch, or what ripples of influence spread from each of those touches. But it was never a numbers game to begin with; it’s about being faithful to our purpose in the collective evolution of Life.
Our role may be to nurture one child who then goes on to change the world, or to influence somebody who guides somebody who teaches somebody who touches somebody who changes the world. Or perhaps the world change comes not through outer actions at all, but through being part of a small shift in collective consciousness. It may seem almost inconsequential at the fulcrum, however extended out across time yields an entirely different trajectory.
Think about it: if you are traveling in a straight line your destination will be a point further out on that line, but if you alter the angle of your direction even a fraction and keep going forward from there, you’ll end up in an entirely different place.
It’s the same with one’s inner journey, or if our travels are not in a straight line (because, really, our journeys are more often in spirals or loops or other formations). Yet when we tell the story about the person or event that “changed our life” it is this alteration in trajectory — sometimes dramatic, sometimes subtle, but in hindsight pivotal. What does this mean for us now, in the collective, as we stand at the pivot point between annihilation and transformation? How many shifts in individual consciousness does it take to alter the trajectory of collective consciousness? And given the stakes, how can we do anything less than everything possible to contribute to this shift.
I had always thought about legacy as an individual contribution, something we do that will live beyond us… tangibly perhaps as books written, institutions founded, service given, money bequeathed to a worthy purpose, or the difference we have made in people’s lives. The insight that came through this morning’s meditation was that perhaps the greatest impact we can make is not through individual accomplishments at all, but in contributing to a collective energy field through works of healing and transformation. Merging our life force energy with the countless others throughout generations in such a purpose may turn out to be the most enduring legacy of all, shifting the trajectory of collective consciousness and thereby shaping the world for generations to come.
So I invite you to consider: how can you live in such a way as to make your life be a gift to Life? To put everything you have been through, everything you are, in service to this. What is the dream of Life for your life? Allow your soul to expand with every breath to embrace it, to amplify it… What does it look like, feel like, taste like, sound like, smell like to embody this dream and live into its fulfillment? ... What world does this create? Inhabit it. The individual and collective transformation this ignites can be our most enduring legacy.
This post is an excerpt from my book-in-progress.
[photo of the sun filtering through redwood trees by Veronica Gomez Ibarra on UnSplash]