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What You Leave Behind

Here is a quote commonly misattributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson, but nevertheless profound in its message:
To laugh often and love much; to win the respect of intelligent persons and the affection of children; to earn the approbation of honest citizens and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to give of one’s self; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to have played and laughed with enthusiasm and sung with exultation; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived – this is to have succeeded.
Last July 20, I saw an interesting episode of The Batman on Cartoon Network.  Since I like giving the short version of stories, here’s what it was about: In the year 2027, Batman was fighting Mr. Freeze, and in the ensuring battle the latter went missing.  As far as Batman was concerned, “the mission is never over!”  As it turned out, Mr. Freeze put himself in cryogenic suspension until such time that someone could revive him.  In the year 3027, the Gotham Police at that time discovered the remnants of the Batcave.  They found titanium covering the walls of the cave, and on it codes that they use to reconstruct information Batman left behind.  They used this information to stop Mr. Freeze, who was revived during their era. 
This got me thinking…  Exactly what will I leave behind long after I’m gone? 
I have my diary entries and other digital files and photographs that talk about my life, my world and my thoughts.  I also have other printed files, photographs and other effects that are a reflection of the life I lived.  However I feel that what I leave behind should be more than just these. 
These material affects will be forgotten or lost in time.  More important that these is the kind of life that (misattributed to) Emerson espouses.  What legacy will I leave behind to my heirs? 
Will they look back and remember someone who loved everyone dearly, and who they loved just as much?  Do I have values, virtues and life lessons that they will adopt as their own and carry with them for the rest of their lives, eventually passing these along, too, to the next generation?  Will I give them pride and honor that I have been a part of their lives?  Will they miss me? 
I am where I am now because of the love that has been passed and built upon by previous generations.  I will be forgotten someday.  But for as long as I’m able to pass on that legacy of love that I have inherited from all those that have come before me, I know that I will live on in the lives that this love will touch in all those that will come after me. 
The time to plant the seed of this future legacy is now.  For myself, I sincerely hope that I’m doing the right things now so that I will have something beautiful to leave behind for future generations. 
One story worth noting: Former President Corazon Cojuanco Aquino died on August 1 at the age of 76 in her battle with colon cancer (January 25, 1933 – August 1, 2009).  Tita Cory is considered “a champion of democracy and a very great mother figure for our society” (quotation from DLSU’s Facebook posting).  God gave her the opportunity to make a difference by putting her in the right place and at the right time to restore freedom to the people after many years of authoritarian rule.  Democracy is her legacy to our nation. 
We don’t have to have Tita Cory’s situation.  In our own lives, if there would be at least one life who is or who will be living better because we existed, then we know that in our own small way, we have successfully made our mark in this world. 
God help us make the most of the opportunities He sends us to make this world a better place for all those who will come after us.
 
Jesus, King of Mercy, I trust in You! 
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Categories: Ideas and Philosophy
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