Passing the baton; leaving a legacy

When I was young I knew this old dodderer who, while I was not disrespectful toward, I didn’t regard much or feel he had much to offer. Yet after he passed on I came to find out that he had raised a family, run a business, served the community, helped many, led groups of young people and fought in the trenches in World War 1.

The other day I met a friend, same age as me, who had been into politics for much of his life, and while he was a bit of a bruiser in his hey day, when it came to motivation he was in it for the right reasons – to serve his community. Moreover, he had much that he could pass on to the next generation. The sad thing was that the very people who might benefit didn’t seem to be interested. Like us and the elderly gentleman referred to above, there is a feeling that people who might benefit don’t want to know, yet they ought to.

Even so, from time to time, one gets the opportunity to pass on pearls of wisdom. A couple of weeks ago I got to address a group of young people on the subject of homelessness and on the sort of attitudes we can have and things we can do to make a difference, and I was heartened that they seemed to take on board what I was trying to say. But for the most part it is a matter of carrying on life as best we can, trying to make a difference and leaving a legacy by virtue of a life well lived. It got me thinking on what gems I can pass on to help avoid the wasted years when wisdom is ignored. For me, these days, leaving a legacy and passing the baton is one of the most productive things I can now do, and while a lot of that comes down to a life well lived (for others to judge how well) hopefully the following thoughts are helpful, bearing in mind we all differ when it comes to temperament, opportunity, talents, aspirations etc.:

  1. Life really is short.
  2. Given life is short it is well worth NOT to bear grudges, i.e. forgive and forbear, for people will wrong and annoy you. In the same vein try and make amends when you offend and hurt others.
  3. Strive for excellence and be the best you can be in whatever you set your heart on doing / being.
  4. The whole of life is a learning curve; continue to learn and gain wisdom. But at the end you will find you will still know very little.
  5. By all means, have a view of the world; but recognize others may see things a whole lot differently and may have very different perspectives, and they may also be right.
  6. Carpe diem (seize the day) is good advice any day. Life should be lived as far as it is possible – to the full and to be enjoyed. Try to do good when we can and keep humble.
  7. Triumphs and disasters and everything in-between will be our regular lot. Take stock, don’t dwell on successes and failures, but rather build on and learn from them, and try to move on.
  8. Count your blessings and be thankful.
  9. The world might be divided into three groups: fools, villains and good guys and it isn’t always easy to tell which is which.
  10. Make money; invest wisely and remember you can’t take any of it with you when you die and it is well to use it as a commodity that you can draw on for doing good.
  11. Be kind – which on reflection of all the good things we might be, this is likely the best thing any of us can be.
  12. Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them” Ecclesiastes 12:1

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