In the words of a good friend of mine, 'don't we all want something in our life that proves we are on this earth for a reason?' I couldn't agree more.
It seems to me - whether we realize it or not, and whether we consciously work toward it or not - we all have some sort of a legacy. Good or bad... we influence others by simply existing. Our real power comes when we explore our purpose and strive to not only have a legacy, but to discover and develop it.
It's no surprise that as I approach 40, I am thinking a lot about my legacy. We all have that drive to create something worth leaving behind, and I'm no exception to the rule. We all - whether we admit it or not - want to know that we've made a difference and will be remembered.
I have always believed that I will leave a legacy as a writer, and lately I've started thinking about who inspired me to become a writer in the first place. I often credit my love of writing to Laura Ingalls Wilder. You know... the author of the "Little House on the Prairie" books and the loveable "half-pint" from the TV series. While it may sound hokey, I embraced her stories for more than just a colorful children's tale about pioneer life. Along with the stories we know and love, Laura also spoke about how she discovered a talent for painting pictures with words, and how even as a child she secretly dreamed of being an author and telling stories.
With that thought in mind, I was browsing YouTube and came across a video interview with Karen Grassle, the actress who played Caroline Ingalls in the "Little House on the Prairie" TV series. I was taken back by how Grassle spoke with such honor and reverence of the real Caroline. She described how Caroline insisted that her husband, Charles, quell his wanderlust and settle down in one place so that their daughters would receive formal education (quite an advanced mindset for the time). Grassle described Caroline as being the quiet legacy behind Laura's success.
You see... while Laura Ingalls Wilder was a brilliant author, it was Caroline who made it possible. Caroline left behind a quiet legacy that allowed Laura to receive an education and to believe it was possible. Caroline allowed Laura to become the loud little girl that she was, and to create such a loud legacy. Without Caroline, there would be no "Little House" book, series or otherwise.
Similarly, it was MY Mother who first introduced me to the series of "Little House" books and taught me to read using flashcards at a very early age. My grandfather and my Mother often shared the book of poems written by my Great Grandmother and taught me to have reverence for it. My Mother and Aunt shared their own writings and encouraged me to read books and explore my interest in creative writing. They lit the spark for me to become a writer and taught me about my own legacy at an early age, and I'm incredibly grateful.
Now... just two weeks before my 40th birthday... I get it. I guess I had to learn to accept my legacy and embrace it fully. They saw the spark in me, nurtured it, and handed it over to me. It was my job to keep it alive and make it my own. This very personal revelation gives me a renewed sense of inheritance and responsibility to live out my legacy and carry it forward proudly.
And like Laura, I'll do my best to live my legacy out loud.