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What Do You Want Your Legacy to Be?



A few weeks ago, the vice president of my college alum group emailed my classmates and me, reminding and imploring us to submit our writings for our 50th Reunion Class Book. One of the requests was to share our reflections about classmates who have passed away since our graduation.


I wrote about my dear friend and classmate, Gregory Allen Howard. Gregory was a gregarious and extraordinary storyteller who became a screenwriter and wrote the scripts for the films "Remember the Titans," "Ali," and "Harriet," among others. Greg specialized in telling stories about race in America that instilled inspiration and hope for our future. He left an impressive legacy that will influence movie watchers for years.


Reflecting on my time with Greg, I pondered, “What kind of legacy do we want to leave behind?” It's not the type of question that usually comes up during casual conversations. It's a question that requires time for thought. Just as our ancestors left something to us, one day, we will do the same for those who come behind us.


I thought about my father, who passed on his love for jazz - particularly the legendary saxophonist Charlie Parker. On top of that, even though he had little formal education beyond high school, he passed on a love for learning by his example. Once, we were listening to a quiz show on the radio, and he could answer questions that even some highly educated contestants could not answer. That experience left an indelible imprint on my mind.


I recollected how my aunt Margaret, a mother figure in my life, would help others increase their belief in themselves by consistently affirming their value and being a channel of encouragement. Those moments helped me realize the most important legacy one can leave is not material, but rather a piece of oneself which embodies the ideas and values you want to hand down.


So we want to ask ourselves, “What are we leaving behind for those who follow us?” and ”How are we living our life on a moment-by-moment basis so that the wake we leave behind is beneficial, healing, inspiring, and transforming to those who come after us?"


As we begin to think along those lines, we discover we overcome the tendency to think merely about the little self. Jesus, a person who left an exemplary legacy, had a response to that tendency. Paraphrasing him, Jesus noted that if you try to save your little life, you'll lose it. But if you lose your life and expand your awareness to the eternal, you will have eternal life. You will become aware of the bigger picture.


Those who have studied the New Thought/ Ancient Wisdom teachings long enough to understand the law of mind action, realize the predominant beliefs that are constantly on our mind tend to become our experience. If we are constantly thinking about and worrying about the little self, the universe provides ways to worry about the little self. The law of worry, fear, and doubt becomes our law. As a result, everywhere we go, we will discover one more thing to be concerned about, and we begin to set that vibration in motion.


However, when we expand our perception and think about being conscious of our oneness with God and one another, we build that vibrational stepladder for our descendants. They step into the frequency we leave behind.


We’re living a certain way today because someone left something behind for us. They were inventors, poets, mystics, philosophers, and spiritual teachers such as Mahatma Gandhi, Krishna, Buddha, Indian Nationalist Sri Aurobindo, and Jesus the Christ. They left an inspirational vibrational field that indelibly imprinted on many hearts and minds. Their vibrations allowed individuals who came after them to catch new ideas and ways of being that can assist in developing concepts, such as the beloved community that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. talked about, lived, and died for.


We are here to live as a community and as individuals who leave a vibrational stepladder so that those who follow behind us can more clearly see the possibilities of the human spirit. That’s a legacy worth leaving.


Peace & Blessings,

James

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