This weekend, I saw a bumper sticker that read "Leaving your mark is overrated."
Those 5 simple words struck me. Probably not in the way they were intended, but they struck me just the same.
The bumper sticker was from the "Leave No Trace" Center for Outdoor Ethics shop . The center is basically to help foster understanding, respect and commitment to enjoyment of outdoor activities with the least amount of damage to the environment.
When I saw it, though (ironically, as we were both stuck in NJ shore traffic, no doubt adding to our carbon footprint), it translated in my brain as "Leaving a legacy is overrated." And it blew just about all I had known out the door for that brief minute.
I cannot think of a single person who does not want to leave his or her "mark" on the world. I know I want to. You probably do, too. When my mother passed away over 18 years ago at the age of 39 (8 years from my current age), she had already built a "legacy" that is still highly regarded. As a parent, she, without a doubt, left a lasting impression that shaped (and continues to shape) her children. As a teacher, her students learned lessons that they carry with them today. As a person, she conducted herself with grace, intelligence, and love that remains with all those who knew her. She did not plan or map this out as some kind of strategy; it was organic. It was truthful. She didn't even have social media to help her extend her reach (imagine that). So, then, I ask myself...what will be my so-called legacy.
I struggle with this all the time. Maybe you do, too. Maybe not. Some people are satisfied with just living and having it all sort of come together. What happens, happens. If a legacy emerges, fine. Others have a very specific plan. Whether genuinely philanthropic or self-serving, they may chose actions that change the condition or situation of people or places that will, one way or another, be remembered...at least for a few years. For generations? That would depend on alot of factors, which I won't get into now.
I stress over what my "mark" will be. What are we doing here? What am I doing here? Our lives must serve some kind of purpose, right? Am I doing anything that will improve someone's life, that will make a difference? Is it something that I sought or something that sought me? Am I forcing the change, and is the change needed? Years from now, will anyone even care that I lived? Will I be remembered as a good person or a selfish, lazy one? Does it matter what people might think about me?
Yes, I can really be that neurotic. Welcome to my world. But in all seriousness, after seeing that bumper sticker, it had me wonder...why am I stressing over this? Do I really need to leave my mark? What difference would it make anyway?
I suppose it comes down to this: Whatever the reason for our existence, we are not here to suck dead air and take up wasted space. We are on this earth with each other for a reason, and I believe we each have a talent to bring about a change. Now...all we have to do is figure what that talent and/or change may be...