Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Making Ancestors

Legacy: Merriam Webster Dictionary defines the word legacy as meaning something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor.

I find it mysterious and amazing that who we are as spiritual beings live on through our good works, our artistic creations, and through those we touch and influence as we move along our lives. It is clear that each of us as a soul has a legacy that resides outside of time.

How you view your future creates it: the energy you put into living becomes the text of your life’s story. According to the ancient Celts, time is not just past or future, but is gathered in a circular rather than linear, so that  even your future time is waiting here for you now. This helps put into context the rest of what I have to say.

In our culture we place a great deal of credence in the importance of individual experience. What you think, believe, and feel remains a daydream if not woven into the tapestry of your experience. The late author and modern mystic John O’Donohue believed that there was a place where our vanished days gathered: the name of that place is memory.  

Memory has depth. It is selective in its feeling and sensitivity.  Since linear time vanishes, everything that is past depends on memory. Memory then transcends to legacy. Transcendence is the force of time that makes a ghost of every experience and in the ensuing period of passing time, legacy then becomes something sacred. 
So... How do you create your legacy in your own lifetime? How do you begin to become an ancestor before your time is through?  Become someone worthy of being remembered. Live life as abundantly as possible, (and I’m not talking about wealth or material gain)…I’m talking about authenticity. Live out your values. Be ethical in dealing with others. Be loyal to a cause. Live your truth and be truthful to yourself and others….That’s what I consider an authentic life.

The act of becoming an ancestor is a wonderful time to develop the art of the *inner harvest*. What does that mean? It means that you actually get to see the fruits of your lifetime experience right now. Frequently, in the life journey of an individual, the most precious moments are the mistakes. Learn from your mistakes- not by regretting them- but by bringing a compassionate mindfulness to the memory of them. Compassion for yourself, if practiced everyday, will allow a space to open for forgiveness. When you are able to forgive your self, the hurts of a lifetime begin to heal. When that happens, you are then  more compassionate toward others.

But that’s not all of it: draw upon your own ancestors. Think about all the people you come from, whose blood and genes are part of you. Some were great people -- some, not so much- but the point is, they all 'belong' to you. They all have helped shape and create you. Appreciate them for who they were, with no expectations or apologies, and know that a part of them is living through you.

So, whether it is going about your everyday mundane life, singing a child to sleep at night with a tender lullaby, artistic expression such as paintings,sculptures or literature, sharing kind words in a heartfelt conversation, or making a discovery that changes the course of history, I am continuously aware that it is the generosity, learning, and legacy of our ancestors that we draw upon each day. It is the heritage of their inspiration and labors that sustain us as we endeavor to open to our own unique presence, gifts and give purpose to  life’s expression.

Most of us worry how we will be remembered- if we've done enough, been kind enough. After all, we want  to be well spoken of when we are gone, don't we? What will be the one thing we need to do to be immortal in memory? Here’s a revolutionary thought- What if we lived our legacy right now? What if we lived our lives with such complete authenticity *that* alone was our legacy? Would we not truly have earned the title of Ancestor while living? Creation of the self with the intention of awesome!

And I know what you're thinking, “I don't have time to be worrying about this. I have fifty million things to do besides the laundry, the dishes and taking care of my family!" But what if THAT was your legacy? What if re-framing your mindset into living your life with the intention of creating legacy were your goal? Imagine the satisfaction of hearing our children say, “My mom took care of us. She made sure we were fed, that we had clean clothing and  that we went to bed on time. She cared about where we were and who we were with and what we were doing. I'm here because my Mom cared." That transcends the ordinary  into the realm of love supremely proven.

Living your legacy is such a simple thing: simply life lived everyday. It's comprised of all the little things which eventually add up. Its living as genuinely and as honestly as you can manage,by being true to who you really are.

In celebration of all our ancestors — and the sacred gift of life in which we’ve each been given the freedom to discover in our own unique potential- I urge you: live your legacy now.

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