When a disease confronts you with your mortality, you may start to wonder about your legacy — how you would like to be remembered when you have passed on. Everyone’s hopes and expectations about legacy differ. We all write our own unique life stories, like chapters in our book of life. Cancer may influence the direction of the story, but it cannot control our narrative.
We all strive to leave behind a footprint when we are gone. The question is how. People have different ideals for their legacy. On one end of the spectrum, some people may prefer to focus all their time/energy/love on a select few people, while others may choose to invest in an activity that would leave a larger footprint in the world.
Everyone is different and preferences, hopes, and ideals may change. There is nothing wrong with that, as long as you are aware of what drove that change. A healthy self awareness is good for life in general. I found the movie The Fault is in Our Stars, which shows two teenage cancer patients exploring their own perspectives on legacy, to be a great example of this concept.
We leave a legacy in one way or another by just going about our lives. It’s hard not to. However, all we can do is shape our legacy, realizing that how we made people feel will be remembered more distinctly than our actions. We all touch other people, make an impression on them and impact their lives in a manner that we may not even be aware of. This is the so-called ripple effect which allows us to continue to live on indefinitely.
It’s important to strive for connection, purpose, and meaning in life. Building towards your idea of a legacy will foster this pursuit and may allow distraction, healing, and channeling of your inner energy into an external target that helps both you and others. But more than that, it may allow you to get a sense of calm and peace, knowing you are working towards building a legacy that fits with who you are and where you stand in life.
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