Friday, January 15, 2010
Our family enjoys riding. To start the year off right we went riding in our favorite place, the Logandale Trails area. There are dunes, whoop-dee-doos, rough camping, day camping, trails to follow, and (we had heard but never verified) petroglyphs. We spent time on our last trip there looking for petroglyphs, but never found them. This time, by pure luck, we did.
As I stood in front of hundreds to thousands of year old petroglyphs, my heart raced. I have been a long-time seeker of what I’ll call, “The Legacy.” To me The Legacy means leaving your mark on the world in a way that you will never be forgotten. Finding a way to leave a message or mark for someone to see, read, or hear about a thousand years from now amazes me. It’s a way to live on even after you’re gone.
I’ll never forget crossing a rock path over a stream in England some years ago. The family I was staying with mentioned it was from Roman times. I remember gasping in shock. Many of the castles and homes we saw were also ancient. I couldn’t get enough of it. Growing up in a town that is barely 100+ years old in country where few human-made things are more than a couple of hundred years old seems wrong somehow. The soldiers and engineers who laid those rocks across that stream in England probably never dreamed 2,000 years later people would still be using them.
When I was growing up I thought The Legacy meant being a famous musician or rock star. In college I thought it meant marrying a famous Mormon guy (Steve Young . . . sigh). I’ve considered The Legacy to possibly be writing a best selling book, saving the world single-handedly by identifying a terrorist plot, teaching the next Einstein how to read and write, becoming wealthy and having a building named after me, creating a world-renown recipe, and on and on.
The people who created the petroglyphs at the Logandale Trails lived, loved, and died near my city. They were the artists of their day, both graffiti and otherwise, leaving their mark or story behind for others to see. (My tagger students remind me of this when I chew them out for tagging walls.) I doubt that these Native Americans even dreamed a thousand years in the future people would see these pictures, much less envy what they left behind. When I look at those pictures I wonder what they felt when they made them. How did they live? How did they die? I want someone to look at something I’ve created a thousand years from now and know I was here. I want to be remembered.
This week we lost our Gram to cancer. She was 86 and a firecracker. We thought she’d outlive us all, she was so stubborn and strong. After we pack up her things to keep and to donate, I wonder if any of it will survive for a thousand years. Who will know she lived here, had a family, influenced people, and shared a life with us? Will our memories and stories we wrote down last? Will the pictures we took?
I pondered this tonight, surrounded by my sisters, brothers, parents, and everyone’s kids. Then I thought maybe The Legacy is more than leaving something tangible behind. Maybe it means passing on my straight hair or hazel eyes or my love of cooking. Maybe it means teaching my children to be kind, instead of harsh. Maybe it means believing in a God I haven’t seen, and sharing my beliefs with others. I don’t know exactly.
Whatever legacy I leave, it will influence generations to come. They may never know I existed, but my influence, like my Gram’s, will still be felt.