It’s hard to believe I’ve been writing Ordinary Legacy for five years. Five years of pouring my heart out onto the page and into your lives with as much humor as I could stand or as much grace as I could muster. It’s been quite a journey through the moments in time that stopped my heart and restarted my life. I am so grateful for the day that started it all, sitting around a table with two women who, to this day, are dear to me in so many ways. The way they hardly knew each other but who knew me well enough to prod me on to just begin. And begin I did, and continue through I did, and now I feel I’ve reached a turning point. And isn’t that the way all changes begin? At some turning point, whether it’s a tragedy, a triumph, a loss or a gain? Ordinary Legacy is growing up and as almost all people and things mature they must evolve to stay relevant. They must become about something other than the original, something more.
More, more than me. Ordinary Legacy is transforming into a community. As defined by Dee Hock: “The essence of community, is heart and soul…Community is composed of that which we don’t attempt to measure, for which we keep no record and ask no recompense. Most are things we cannot measure no matter how hard we try.”
In the past few weeks I’ve learned so much about people and how they see themselves. I’ve learned to listen more closely to how they want their story told. I’ve learned that people tend to run up and over themselves in the day to day. As Gretchen Rubin is fond of saying, “The days are long but the years are short”. Is there a way to stop the years, no probably not. Is there a way to make them count, I’m sure of it. It’s been said that thinking just one minute beyond what’s happening now can both create or prevent outcomes. Just one minute.
I am finally awake to the fact that everybody has and is a story, all of them worth telling in their ordinary yet extraordinary way. There are people like my Father who, now that he’s gone, can only live on through my sister and me and on these pages. When we are gone there is a chance that no one will ever say his name again, the thought of that is one of the reasons this blog exists.
My mother has a very different story, her nieces and nephews have passed on Aunt Marie stories over and over. Those stories are irrevocably linked to their grandmothers. The kids we grew up with will be telling the Rere stories to their kids too. My mother has spread herself far and wide and will continue on in the stories told about her for generations. She is an extraordinary legacy because she’s living her life the way she wants her story told. Does she realize it? Probably not, imagine if she did…
We all live in several different types of communities, there is our actual home community, our spiritual community our work community. All of these communities are rich with personal stories. At every turn there are people you will always remember, whether they know it or not. For instance, I was hired by a man nineteen years ago who will be retiring in October. I have a million stories that could be relayed here, some of them good, some frustrating, some funny, some not so much. The fabric of this relationship has a strong thread of gratitude through it, nubby in places where we don’t see eye to eye, smooth in the places that we’ve laughed so hard we couldn’t breathe and the tears were running down our faces. The sheen is one of respect, the strength admiration, the color vibrant. It’s my guess that after he retires I might not see him again, but I will remember him my whole life. He is living his life the way he wants his story told. I believe he is well aware of it. “Integrity is a powerful force, keeping you alive to others long after you’ve left their presence.” ― Mollie Marti
I believe that most of us fall somewhere in the middle, I believe that given the right forum one might really catch on to the possibilities that small things can make a difference and that those small things we change today will define the stories that are told about us. I believe I have the super power of listening and actually hearing beyond the words and that it honors me to be able to tell someone’s story. I believe that I can teach. I believe that I can learn.
I know like I know that I can create a place where stories can be told just like at the kitchen tables of old. I don’t know exactly how I’m going to do it but I want to try. I hope you’ll stick with me as I sort through the zillion thoughts in my head about round tables and discussions. About creating a place where legacies, like my Father’s, can reside safe in the body of work that will be yours, mine and ours. Give me your thoughts, tell me your stories, and let me be your voice. Together this community will come alive and stay alive through moments in time and lives well lived. Come on…