The moment we begin to bring awareness to the basic idea that we have, and will have, a legacy, we begin to create one.
In the end, we all want to have lived lives that mattered. We all want to have left a lasting imprint on the hearts of those we loved and on the world as a whole. We all want to be remembered for the best of who we are and wanted to be.
Opportunities abound to fulfill these deeply human longings. They abound in every single moment that we are alive. But we often miss making the connection that now is the only doorway to then. We miss seeing that the choices we make at every juncture of our current moments and decisions either lead us toward or away from the possibility that we will have touched what we wanted to touch in ourselves, others and the world…in the end. We forget that living fully today is the only way to be remembered as we most fully want to be remembered when that great unknowable culmination of life finally arrives. We forget to remember that it is worth everything to live wholeheartedly in all the moments that we can.
We cannot live lives that truly matter without consideration of the things that truly matter.
When we befriend the fact that our lives are excruciatingly sacred and temporary, we are better able to take stock of what matters and to discern where wisdom directs our attention and choices. We long to say yes and dive headlong into life as the precious, passing invitation we know it is. Yet, facing and befriending the idea of our mortality seems to be the one thing that many of us most heartily avoid.
We cannot live lives that truly matter without consideration of the things that truly matter — and our impermanence is one of these. The moment we begin to bring awareness to the basic idea that we have, and will have, a legacy, we begin to create one. With our attention. With our choices. With our actions. Acknowledgement of legacy itself brings home the realization that we will not live forever and that we are shaping and living it now.
Whenever we embrace the vulnerability that comes with being alive — that inherently accompanies living gratefully — we are reminded that time is limited, so we should treasure what we have now. Holding this perspective is how legacy is created — not missing an opportunity while opportunities are available to us. How might we best embrace vulnerability and avail ourselves of life’s many opportunities? By learning to lean into — and trust in — life.
How do we hold awareness of the preciousness of life and its impermanence simultaneously?
Trust in life is a lesson with which many of us may wrestle in many ways, and it can support us in holding the wholehearted perspective that is the foundation of legacy. What does trust in life mean for each of us? Surely the idea lands differently into each of our lives, at different stages, and even at different times of day. Trusting life is a powerful perspective and practice. One we can commit to hold, allowing all of what surfaces in its exploration. Like mindfulness or grateful living practice, it is not when every moment is a perfect expression of our commitment that we consider ourselves to have a “successful” practice. Success is in noticing one moment more awareness, one more centimeter of possibility, one more instance of trusting life. Success is earned in returning again and again to the invitation and opportunities that the practice extends to us to live more wholeheartedly.
It can be very difficult to know how to live with the recognition that both so much and so little is promised us in this lifetime. It is challenging to remind ourselves that we navigate our lives, always, in the sublime truth of mystery. How do we hold awareness of the preciousness of life and its impermanence simultaneously? How do we offer our trust in life knowing that everyone will die and that difficulty and hardship are inevitable? How can we survive the balancing act of living in this way, much less cultivate and let it guide us? Gratefulness is an extraordinarily potent answer to many of our deep and far-reaching questions, inviting us to heed its invitation to live gratefully in the fullness of every moment…starting with the very moment that is here for us now.
Kristi Nelson is the Executive Director of A Network for Grateful Living.
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