What will you do with your one wild and precious life? Mary Oliver.
I was thinking about legacy, and how the world shapes us. There have been so many lives shared with me over the years: some people I have known only briefly, others for longer times. I am always cognizant of the diverse and sometimes terrible ways their legacies were made. So often, what was truly harsh in this life became refined before their lives were done (like the heat and pressure that creates the beauty in diamonds).
I have some vivid mental vignettes of their shared experiences that shaped their lives: The purplish stamped numbers on an old woman’s forearm, and the losses she suffered in this life that moulded her into a person who quietly survived— teaching her children to never let life beat them down; The serene age-lined face of a man whose students hung on the cherished words he spoke, himself saved from an abusive and brutal life through his dedication to inspiring literature— still quoting and teaching wisdom as he left life behind; The gentlest man who had overcome his own demons and continued to bring support and light to others in the clutches of addiction— remaining a mentor until his last breath; The pale faced little girl whose inherent limitations in this physical life created total dependency—and whose happy demeanour brought laughter and joy to her family throughout her short lifespan; The man whose livelihood and family had been torn apart during a government-led internment— who spent the remainder of his days lovingly growing plants and enhancing lives around him with beauty.
For many, these stories will go unnoticed in the world, their accomplishments will not be heralded after they are gone and their obituaries forgotten… though a few will remember. When all things are taken into account, it may seem insignificant. It may seem as though they just happened to have been in a certain place, and the experience just befell them. It may seem as though none of it really mattered in the end, since all of us will only be remembered for a time. Yet they made a difference in their small corner of the globe. The events in their life shaped them, and they in fact did something wonderful with their wild and precious life.
I’m taking a moment today to remember and thank each of them; it was the sharing of their lives, their legacies, that made their precious life even more precious to me.