When my younger brother and I were kids, he looked up to me like a hero, even though we were only a few years apart. But as we became adults, I was no longer the hero. In fact, it was only recently that I finally corrected him when he called me, “Little Brother.”
“Uh, no, I believe I’m the big brother, and you’re the little brother,” I said.
I was nervous at first, but it felt good afterwards. And now, especially in terms of my legacy, my life has changed.
The way that I restored my grace (“G” in our L.E.G.A.C.Y. Blog Series), my dignity, was via the Three Bridges.
My brother is more successful than me in most of the ways society measure’s success. He makes much more money. He’s an active, stellar father of three, and devoted husband. He has responsibilities that I could barely fathom. And, he is a pillar in his community.
What am I? An unknown author of books and songs. So can you see how I lost my grace in our adulthood?
BRIDGE ONE: The Perspective of the Cosmos
Our roles, our status symbols, our titles, possessions, can become inflated and contorted. But, when you look at Earth from the heavens, what does it all really mean? If an alien were examining us and our roles, what would he or she think?
I’d like to think that my passion to create art and to move as many people in the world as I can with it, especially when seen through the light of human culture, is in no way unworthy of dignity and respect. I don’t have to have children, become a N.Y. Times bestselling author, or write a hit song, to still be a hero.
BRIDGE TWO: Actions Speak Louder than Words
I loathe to think of how many years I’ve wasted searching for meaning in the many ways that society recognizes and rewards various careerists. For me, recognition means making a big book list, winning an award, or having a big name record one of my songs. But this kind of meaning is not only utterly uncontrollable, but given to great variability. Is that such a good place to root oneself?
I think that the way we live ourlives, what we do, how we treat others, how much we strive, how much passion we have, that is where fixed meaning lies.
And the bridge to grace here is crossed when we speak softly and quietly, yet act loudly and nobly. As the great philosopher, Aristotle, believed, actions do speak louder than words.
BRIDGE THREE: What will they Say at My Funeral?
Yes, okay, a tad morose, sorry, but practical. The first time I asked myself this question, years ago, it was a tad daunting. But since then, I’ve made changes, and, though I have a lot of work to do on myself, if I were catapulted right now into the next great adventure, I would be proud of who I am today … right now.
It doesn’t matter what we do, what our goals are. We decide what we want to be, and then go be it. And if we pursue our passions in a way that preserves self love and respect, as well as love and respect for our fellow human beings, another bridge to grace illuminates like a moonlit path through a hitherto dim forest.
May you cross all three bridges, and, in doing so, shine like a noble, silent star across the cosmos, embracing perhaps this most important aspect of legacy.
Yours in grace,