We all have a legacy to leave
This month, I turned 40 years old which puts me, arguably, about halfway through the time I have on this earth. Unless you look at the trend among males on my paternal lineage. I think there’s two or three generations running that all passed on or around 72 years of age. In which case, I blew past the halfway point four years ago.
Either way, there’s only so much time left for all of us.
I’m also the father of two young kids, ages almost-seven and almost-four. They’re growing fast and I feel the urgency to squeeze in what I envision family life should be while they’re still young. We have a lot of camping and fishing and traveling to do in the decade or so I have left before they get their own wheels and want to do their own thing on weekends.
Then I go to work and I think, what am I doing here? In the grand scheme of life, what are any of us doing?
You ever ask yourself that? When your last day finally comes, will you be satisfied with what you left behind? In other words, what will be your legacy?
I’m not wealthy, not in a financial sense, anyway. Likely never will be. I won’t be leaving large bequests in my will, I won’t be making large donations to any foundations, and I don’t foresee anything being named after me. And I’m fine with that.
I am, however, intent on leaving my mark on this community in other ways. Specifically, in the parks and conservation areas I help to create and improve so mine and future generations can connect to the outdoors. Because I feel that such connections are critical to the health and well-being of ourselves and our community as a whole.
I also recognize that what I do is one small component of a broader effort to improve and grow our community and I try to take time occasionally to step back and see the forest for the trees. There are so many things happening around here. So many projects, capital campaigns, improvements, renovations, expansions…that there’s something for everyone to get involved in, to contribute to, no matter where your interest lies.
You have a legacy to leave on your community.
And you don’t have to be wealthy to contribute. You don’t have to get your name on a donor wall or a walk-of-fame to write your signature on this landscape.
So, what do you care about? What cause are you most drawn to supporting? If you love the outdoors and county parks, we should talk. But maybe you love the arts. Animals? Education? Youth? Economy? Community safety? There are local nonprofits supporting all the above and more.
Whatever you’re interested in, wherever you want to make a difference, you can. And you don’t have to be an artist, veterinarian, educator, economist, or cop to do so. There are endless ways to support those causes no matter who you are or where on the socioeconomic spectrum you fall.
How we contribute to our community falls somewhere within that triangle. Maybe you’re really good at sales or marketing. Volunteer to sell sponsorships for a local fundraiser or to run an ad campaign for it. Good at building stuff? Volunteer to build stage sets, or bird boxes, or park benches. Or maybe you have extra time while the kids are at school – all the local civic clubs (think Kiwanis, Optimist, Rotary, etc.) meet weekdays at noon and would love to have you join them.
In my case, I don’t have a lot of resources – at least not financial ones. But I do have some talent in certain areas (at least I like to think so) and a little bit of time to lend, emphasis on the “little bit.” So I write this column, I write grants, and I write a blog all in an effort to move parks and conservation forward. Heck, I even started a podcast, though the jury is still out as to whether there’s any talent involved in that endeavor. I serve on the local Convention and Visitors Bureau steering committee because I want to help bring more people to our community, some of which undoubtedly will visit county parks. Win-win.
I’m also good at logistics and planning and coordinating, so I contribute that talent and quite a bit of time to coordinating the annual banquet for the local Pheasants Forever chapter. Again, because parks and conservation are my thing. It might not be yours, and that’s great. This same concept applies to whatever cause you want to contribute to.
That’s the legacy I’m hoping to leave behind. What about you? How will you leave your mark on this community? What will you leave behind?
What resources can you provide to your chosen cause? What talents can you bring to a local nonprofit? What little bit of free time do you have to give back to the community?
We can all give back in some way, and we should. Because our collective legacy is in the community we leave to the next generation. Let’s make it a good one.