What is a legacy?
I was hanging out with a dear friend recently and told her that I was pulling together a collection of my yoga classes for my YouTube channel. I referred to what I’d done as creating a kind of legacy. She looked horrified, as though I was imminently going to shuffle off this mortal coil.
I definitely am not about to, but this exchange had me scurry to my Merriam-Webster to find out exactly what the word means. My friend and I were both on the right track. The first definition of the word is ‘bequest’, which suggests a gift of money or property that is transmitted through a will.
In a broader sense, while a person’s legacy can indeed involve money or property, the idea of legacy has come to mean much more. It is about the richness of a person’s life, for example, accomplishments and impact. The story of a person’s life reflects their legacy, and since we all have a life story, this means we will all have a legacy to bequeath. (It should be noted, though, that the legacy one leaves behind can be a negative one, as well.)
A ‘Living Legacy’
I started to think in this broader meaning of legacy when I turned sixty. I decided that my ensuing years could increasingly be about contributing to society and my communities, although I’d already been doing this to a certain extent. Any yoga teacher of long-standing, or a teacher trainer/mentor is a contributor. I started blogging about yoga and life which extended my reach into the community. I began drawing together a group of yoga teachers when I moved out of Sydney to regional NSW. I began volunteering at the Mitchells Island School and in palliative care.
Orienting myself towards finding contributing has meant that I keep looking for opportunities. This last year I was a judge for the ‘Tell Me a Story’ competition for primary school kids in the district.
While we were in COVID lockdown last year, I completed my memoir/autobiography. Perhaps this will be a way that my son, stepson and grandkids will get understand how important it is to have a legacy. The memoir is a collection of family stories, as well as my journey of healing. I wish I had this sort of record from my parents who both died at relatively young ages.
Back to my YouTube channel collection, it is still modest in size, but COVID has given me another leg-up. A couple of months ago in yet another lockdown, I started zoom classes. Besides the delight of putting me in contact with the students I had previously taught in Sydney, I discovered that I like this medium. I’ve met some new people on zoom, too. It’s so easy to record the sessions. Local students have been willing to attend hybrid sessions, whereby they can be present in the studio while I’m zooming.
My YouTube channel includes some lovely meditations that I’ve recorded, Susan Stott’s pentatonic harp music, short tutorials and even a tour of the Yoga Shed and our gardens.
If the idea of creating a living legacy for yourself appeals, here’s a link to a website called ‘Bestow’ that will help inspire and organise you.
The latter part of life doesn’t have to be all about giving. Creating a fulfilling life means ticking items off the bucket list. My husband and I have a lengthy caravan trip planned that will take us all around Australia: the Top End, the Kimberley coast, the whale sharks of Ningaloo reef, Margaret River and the Nullabor Plain and more.
Have I whet your appetite?
I think that any good legacy should should include elements of adventure!