the box we leave

Each of us lives our life building a small box that will ultimately be left behind.

This box is one we build even if we don’t want to.  It is our legacy.  It is our history.  It is what others have experienced and have seen in us.  It is the memory of who we were, what we did, what we accomplished, how we treated others, how we fell short of others expectations, how we fell short of our own expectations, what dreams we accomplished and what dreams never really made it.

At my employment we have started something we call a “Legacy Document.”  This is supposed to be a folder of information related to our position that gives specific data to whomever might have need to follow one of us into the “line of fire” (so to speak).  It is a road map of information that we leave at the location.

Many of you make some plans for others concerning your finances.  You call it a “Will.”  It is also a road map of information that you choose to send on to those that matter in your life.  Great pains are taken to either provide for your final wishes, provide finances for a spouse or children or grand children or the like.  Some have even gone so far as to provide for a pet.  Some leave it all to charity.  At any rate, this is a document that is supposed to outline what should be done with what was left of your estate.

These types of legacies are good.  But they are not our true legacy.

The legacy “box” is the one that matters.

You will be remembered.  That is, by someone.  Maybe not many.  Maybe just a very few.  But someone, somewhere will remember you.

Your legacy box is your effect, your true estate as it were, that you leave to ALL that come after.  It tells the tail of who you were seen to be by others.  Not always who you really were.  Just what was seen by others.

What does your legacy box look like?

Did you help others or think only of yourself?  Did you care or were you “care-less?”  Did you have a positive impact on someone’s life or were you the one that caused others to fall?  What would someone say about your character?  Did you have any?  Were you honest or a liar?  Did you obey the law or skirt it at every chance?  Were you a “good” person?  Did you play by the rules or cheat the system at every opportunity?  What was your example to your children?  Did you speed in and out of traffic?  Were you a courteous person or show others that they didn’t really matter?  Did you respect others and their rights?  Did you give to the needy or hoard for yourself?  Did you give of your time or spend it all on yourself?

My father’s legacy is great.  He had an effect on many lives throughout his own.  He was involved in the creation of two private schools.  As the pastor of a church he made a impact on many a life on a regular basis.  He taught good to all.  He lived as he believed.  He stood for what he believed.  He walked the walk as much as he talked the talk.   This is and was a rare thing.  Many people respected him and his name is respected to this day and the effect he had on people’s lives will continue for generations.  Though I will never be able to say that I have accomplished as much or even come close to the impact of his life, I think the greatest thing he did for me was in the values and respect and teachings that he gave to me.  In effect, he is in me and lives on.  Not just in me but in my brothers, my sister, his and my mother’s grand children, and the many other lives his life touched.  I can only hope that the life I live will touch even a few to that level.

I am on “LinkedIn” which is a social site for business.  The question was recently asked if integrity was a thing of the past?  Maybe not those words but something very close.  I also recently posted on my twitter account that my father had once called me skeptical.  I also wrote that I felt he was correct.   I responded to the LinkedIn question with my thoughts that I was somewhat “up in the air” on this matter.  That I felt that balance was a force that is always in check in every society and every age.

I now have changed my mind.

This may be very disheartening for some but I have become more skeptical than ever.  I still believe that balance may still be true, but I lean more toward the pendulum theory now.  And it is also unfortunate, but I feel we have swung way too far to the side of selfishness as a whole.  At least here in the US.

I see a fat society.  Fat in many ways.  Not just actual weight (2 out of 3 Americans are overweight).  Fat in the belief that the individual should have everything they want.  They should strive to achieve anything they want and should feel no remorse for those they step on in the process or who they have to leave behind in order for themselves to be “happy.”  (the “happy” box is another box all together)  The word is “entitlement.”    It seems to be taking over.  No-longer do people think they should have to earn what they get.  They feel they deserve it.  No matter that it cost someone something.  They should have it.  On credit if necessary.  And who really cares if the bad ole credit card company (the bank) goes bust because they gave out credit that should not have been given in the first place.  Someone somewhere made the money and “I” should have it.  “I’m entitled” so they think.

Yes.  I’m a skeptic.

The scam artists are everywhere.  They have been around for a long long time.  It is a fact of our everyday lives.  “Buy this because it will make you beautiful or sexy or make you feel good.”  “Do this or that to make yourself look or feel more important.”  “Watch out for this, we can protect you.”  They show pretty pictures of what you want to think you would look like because it sells their product so they can make more money.  They tell you this lie or that lie to make you want to vote for them so they can have the “power” to make the laws that benefit the ones that put them into office so that they can steal even more of our money.  Not so that YOU will benefit in anything.  It is so that THEY will benefit.

Politicians, doctors, lawyers, policemen, firemen, teachers, clerks, technicians, car salesmen, businessmen, anyone and everyone, even the clergy seem to have some hidden agenda.   Usually to take your money, your power, or your dignity.  Cynical isn’t it?  Do you ever really listen to the hype, the sales talk, the propaganda and innuendos behind what is being heard with your ears?  Do the words being spoken ever send a deep chill as if saying “THIS IS NOT RIGHT”?

Yes… I’m a skeptic.

Today I was able to speak with a good friend about this topic.  Some question about whether people know what they are doing was brought up.  His statement had to do with the fact that “Jesus” knew that people didn’t even know what they were doing based on the quote “Forgive them for they know not what they do.”  I have some thoughts on that as well.

Do we know what we are doing?  I think yes.  While we may not know all of the ramifications surrounding what is being done, there is still that “still small voice” crying out from deep inside telling us that what we are choosing is either right or wrong.  We “KNOW” if it is right and we know if it is wrong.  What our decision is may be based totally on unrealistic principles but that decision still weighs on us either way.  OK  I’ll give a little leeway.  There are times when we really do NOT know what we are doing and do the wrong thing simply out of ignorance.  But where it effects truth?  You and I both know that you know when you are telling a lie.  You know when you are stealing.  You know when you are telling something about someone that you know is not true.  You know when you are intentionally cheating a person or a company or a business or the government.  You know when you are breaking a law intentionally.

Doing the wrong thing…  there is a cost to that.  One quotation that I am familiar with says:  The wrong thing…. “it will take you further than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay.”  Doing the wrong thing, even with good intentions, often costs much more in the long run.  Almost always does.  Doing what is right may cost.  But it seldom costs as much.  And how far reaching does it wind up?  There was once a commercial that was directed at the cigarette industry.  It was a man, seemingly healthy, tall and strong, sitting next to a tree enjoying his smoke.  The camera turns as he lays his pack of cigarettes down.  Sitting next to him is a young boy of about 3 or 4.  The boy picks up the pack of cigarettes and starts looking inside.  The message (if you didn’t already guess) is that what we do ALWAYS has an effect.  Not just on us but on those around us.  Often without our thought it is happening.  What your children see and hear you do is what they learn to do.  Not what you tell them to do.  What you do.

I am amazed at how often I can go to a restaurant or place of business and see children seemingly totally on their own doing what ever they choose to do.  They make noise, steal, break, and run rampant with out any regard by the “attending” adult.  I am astounded at the total disregard for life while on the road.  Not just by young drivers either.  The “ADULTS” drive like maniacs.  That one or two extra minutes that they save by cutting someone off to get in front of that one more car….  Do they really think they are saving that much time?  Does getting there one more minute or even 10 minutes earlier make any real difference?  Wouldn’t they have been much better served to have just left that length of time earlier themselves instead of teaching their own children this method of highway madness?  You know the ones.  Those that run down the side of a long line of people to jump in front because “they are too important to wait like everyone else” kind of people.  But I digress.

It equates to disrespect.  It equates to selfishness.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

So… back to the original question…   What does your “legacy” box look like?  What are you leaving for others to see?  How will they think of you when you are gone?

The one thing I would like to impress on your life is this…  Truth never fails.  Never!


Author: memman

Too much to tell. There is more than what is seen on the surface of any man. Some have more layers than others. I have many.

4 thoughts on “the box we leave”

  1. I’m going out on a limb in this response Dan. You already know I really liked this one. Very thought-provoking. And I always enjoy thought-provoking. But I’d like to point out some potential dangers in your logic. At least for me.

    Like you, I grew up learning about the importance of living your life based on good values and principles. Doing right vs wrong. Having a good moral compass, and “being a good example” for others. Basically, as you say leaving a good legacy for others to embrace and draw wisdom from in their own lives. Leaving us with a sense of peace that we have made a valuable contribution to the world and then we can move on.

    Well here’s the problem. In doing these things that sound so good to the ears, we must realize, that it is our minds that are forming our impressions of “what is good”, “what is bad”, etc. Even if we have read the bible and gone to church a lot. And in reading the bible, we get a strong sense that it is bad for an innocent person to be murdered. We get a strong sense that it is a very good thing to express care and concern for the well being and safety of our friends, family and fellow human beings. We get a strong sense that having sympathy and compassion for others, and even for “our enemies” when possible is a virtuous and desirable character trait to acquire. These are indeed the qualities protrayed moreso by fine upstanding citizens, and less so by the average prisoner or criminal, right?

    Well, being a peace-maker type myself, I am personally drawn to these qualities and characteristics above. I often want to feel that I can safely abide by and know with strong confidence and conviction that I am living a good life, that is rewarding and helpful to others. I think we all want to feel assured that we are “doing good” and “living right”. Another way of saying it, these things can sort of “make me feel good” at times, maybe when I am not feeling good for other reasons that I may not even be aware of.

    So actually, doing these things… to make myself feel better… is actually similar to taking a pill or possibly another drug of choice. But also,since I have already referred to the bible, there is a powerful example there, where Jesus refers to an action that fits every one of the “positive characteristics” I have carefully described above, and says they are of Satan! And worse, the person he is speaking to is someone he loves dearly, and is possibly his most devoted follower, Peter.
    Probably everyone reading this now, knows I’m referring to when Jesus was talking to Peter about his own suffering and death “at the hands of the elders, chief priests, and teachers of the law”. So when Peter displays the qualities I described above in his protest to Jesus suffering and dying, saying (according to one translation) “God forbid, Lord! This shall never happen to you.”

    And of course then Jesus says “Get behind me Satan! You are a hindrance to me; for you are not on the side of God, but of men”.
    This is probably one of the most gut-wrenching exchanges I know of in the bible. Because I relate to Peter here. His words actually express quite naturally the first of the (now widely known) stages of grief, which is denial: No, God forbid… not to you Jesus… Denial… Grief… Right?

    So is Jesus just lacking in understanding of the process of grief and how that works? Doesn’t he know, for the sake of Peter’s self-esteem, he should praise him for being so caring in wanting to prevent Jesus’ suffering?

    I mean, that’s “healthy”, to not want others to suffer and die. Especially those you love most… right?,,, wait… Satan!… did he just refer to me as Satan!! Jesus is mean. I was showing love like his primary command to us. And he calls me Satan! That’s just not fair…

    Anyway, in summary, as much as I value people who “do good”, and desire to see people choose “right” over “wrong”, I know that deception easily occurs in “doing” these “concepts”, as Hitler’s story portrays quite effectively, convincing an entire nation his calling was of the highest Christian virtue! The concepts of right and wrong are highly limited by the very fact they are concepts. Part of the “filters” we run everything through. Though they serve their purpose temporarily, we must learn to have freedom from these filters, and find healing for the places that need them as a crutch, beginning with the present moment… part of the way, to our calling.

    You know me Dan, I’m preaching to myself. These are very difficult things for me to “take in”. I both “know freedom” and “yearn for freedom”… know wisdom and yearn for wisdom. “I believe. Lord help my unbelief”.

    1. Something I have opened my eyes to in recent years is the fact that what I learned growing up is not what other people have learned growing up. Cultures are different from country to country and even in our own country from state to state and it even goes much further. Whites look at things differently than Blacks or Hispanics or Asians or Bosnians or __________ (you name it)! Religious diversity also plays a huge role. Catholic vs Protestant vs Hinduism vs Buddhism vs whatever. Still, in “nearly” every culture there are certain things that are universally considered right and/or wrong. But that is not really the point here though it includes this factor.

      The point really has as much to do with attitude as much as anything. That attitude can be shaped by our filters, that is true. But ultimately in it’s earliest form or at its beginning stages (before we corrupt it) that intent, that purpose, that knowledge is there that tells the individual that it is true or a lie.

      You are well aware that “Truth” is my mantra. That source of knowledge of truth that is available to anyone with sight to see.

      “With sight to see.” That in and of itself is quite a statement.

      But I digress.

      On the point of Peter. Knowing “some” scripture, as I know you are aware, my history of teaching on this was not that Jesus did not understand what was going on in Peter so much as Peter did not know. Jesus called him “Satan” due to the influence Satan had on him at that moment. Asking something for “self” is selfish. The indication in that passage was that Peter did not want Jesus to die even though he had been taught that he would and that this moment would come and was, therefore, going against what he had been taught in order that things would stay as they were for his own benefit. Not because he didn’t think Jesus would or could die. He just didn’t want things to change for him (Peter). A selfish act. Knowing the truth. Denying the truth.

      Yes… it may have been a reaction rather than a response. The fact remains that Peter’s motives were selfish. Jesus knew the difference. (so I’m taught)

      I know of the grief of seeing someone die. I watched as my father died. My position at that time was somewhat different than that of Peter. Of course the whole situation was different. My father was very close to 82. Not the young age (33) of Jesus. My father was ill. Not so of Jesus. I had watched as my father deteriorated over time and had time to adjust and prepare. Peter did too in this respect as he had been taught over and over of what was to come. So this is where his selfishness came into play. I was able to let my father pass knowing it was best for him. He would no longer have to endure the pain that he was having to bear. He would no longer have to feel like he was loosing a battle with his mind as it slowly lost its ability to maintain his short term memory. I felt he had lived a good life. And he did. Jesus’ life was short. Much shorter than my father’s. Peter had only a few years with him. Maybe that was the origin of his selfishness. Wanting more. Still, it was selfish. Jesus knew it. Peter realized and understood it later. That happens to most of us. We don’t understand many things until much later and after many experiences. I feel this is the case with Peter.

      So far as doing things that are good to feel good as a drug. That would go to motive. Again…. what is the attitude? What is the purpose? It is NEVER right to do wrong in order to do right. The end does NOT justify the means. Feeling good for doing what is right is not something that is wrong. It is a benefit. Feeling bad for doing something that is wright can be wrong or it can be because you know it is going to hurt. That often happens when we express “tough love.”

      Soooo much to think about. So many angles. I can’t cover it all in this response.

      1. More really good things to contemplate here! However, I will make this comment brief as I think my long response sort of convoluted what I intended to say. For reasons I have discussed with you before, just the labeling of things as “right” or “wrong” in and of itself feels troublesome to me now. I did not feel that way growing up, but I do now.
        I see now that our human perspective is limited enough that to have any confidence in calling something right or wrong, good or bad, is likely shortsighted; A strong example being, what we call evil, the torture and murder of the son of God, he saw as a creative path to enable the most powerful example of love in history. So then how can that be labeled “bad”. “It is what it is…” is probably a more accurate approach.
        …as you told me earlier, we probably agree more than this appears.

        1. Right or wrong? Up or down? In or out? All good questions. Maybe… whats the meaning of life? Too much? How about this… I think we agree much more than we disagree. I think my way of expressing myself can be difficult to accept or even understand sometimes. My way of describing things may not be the same way you or others understand but that is OK with me.

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