What legacy are you going to leave?

Legacy defined: “something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past.” Something I think about often. What do I want to leave behind? I’m not just talking about my children, or my childrens children. I’m thinking in terms of the world. Im thinking bigger than the bigger picture.

What can I leave behind?

What can just one person do? I think we’ve been given examples of that throughout history. Men and women who have changed the world. Men and women who acted alone at first and then united people around them for a cause…one that grew far bigger than anyone could have ever imagined. We have seen that with religion, we have seen that with movements, we have seen that with rights and peace. We have seen these things. I have seen these things. And here I am now, 25, thinking of what I can leave behind…so when I begin, I have the end in mind.

There’s an interesting feeling that comes up inside of me when I start thinking about this topic. But this morning, at 4:45am when thinking about it, I had very vivid and specific thoughts about my past…and it brought me back to a time where I sought out the help from a teacher/mentor who took me through a week long retreat and helped me clean up my past, see the world with new glasses, and bring fresh perspective into my life.

Without cleaning up our past, we cannot…even remotely, live in the present. It doesn’t matter whether the events that happened are in the forefront of your mind, they are still boiling there in your subconscious. I know personally that when I start feeling anxious about things in the present I have things that I need to take care of in my past. Things to say to people, things to let go…and mostly, forgiveness to be given. Our past can completely hinder us from living in the present. It can weaken our resolve and destroy our appreciation of things in the present. In fact, it can even make us completely miss what is happening in the present.

I cannot build a legacy on a murky past.

Now, that doesn’t mean what has happened wasn’t significant or that there weren’t good and bad things that went down. I say murky in terms of looking back and still seeing it missing my attention. It’s easier to move on and try to forget than deal with it. Trying to forget never really works. You never forget. There are always going to be situations, smells, events, songs, foods, and everything else in between that are going to trigger something deep inside of you…that place where you store “trying to forget” and it will make it real again. It will make it real as day.

Because I have such a vivid imagination…when this happens…the past plays in real time and 5k resolution. I am taken straight back there and things change with me in the present. It’s like having the ability to transport yourself back in time and see things for what they truly were and how they happened. I use to think this was a curse because I never took care of what I should have, but now, with a different way of looking at things…I see it as a blessing.

I handle what I need to. I take care of it. I give it the time it deserves. I nurture wounds.

So when I have something trigger it in the present, I am okay with looking back because I know I have hugged my past rather than locked it away in a box…one that you always know is buried in a specific spot and has memories and thoughts banging against the metal walls trying to get out and get your attention.

The past can eat your present and future.

It’s taken big bites out of mine. I fought it for such a long time but there I was again, not dealing with it…and instead battling it. In fact, it took such big bites out of it that it sent be 10-20 steps backwards…something that I had to work very hard to get back to “present day” with. And through that entire 14 week period I learned what it was like to truly invest myself fully into something and to take it 1 day at a time. I built a foundation that I could be proud of and that could take me into the future. But as that challenge ended and I took 5 weeks off, I was back into limbo. I felt like I had more in the tank. I felt like I could accomplish more and that I could step it up a notch. And…where was that anxious feeling coming from again? Why was I freaking out about things I had no business freaking out about? What the hell was going on?

The past snuck back in.

It snuck in and created procrastination, laziness, doubt, anxiousness, fear. T.D. Jakes says that the enemy doesn’t need to fight you anywhere else but right in your mind. Because if it can take out your mind, it can tear down everything else. It didn’t tear me down, but it prevented me from taking steps forward with that same tenacious attitude I had when I just started the 14 week journey.

After this weekend, I had a change of heart and really decided to go back at it again. I recommitted to the things I knew I needed to make happen…I promised myself nothing short of my finest work product and effort…and I committed to writing and walking hand in hand again with some things that were coming up from my past that needed my attention.

See some people will tell you that life is a series of two steps forward and one step back. I don’t necessarily agree with that. It’s not the statement about one step back that I’m bothered with, its just the ratio of the steps. I think life does send you back…but you’re never going to really know how many steps forwards vs backwards its going to be. What I do know however, is that the steps forwards in the long run, if you live with a full heart and use the gifts you were given, are far greater than the steps backwards.

This is just what I know to be true, sitting here at 25 years old, looking at the end and working my way to the beginning. That beginning is today…11/17. It’s another start to something I am going after. But there’s something different about this start. What’s different is my knowledge of what I actually want for myself. It took me a few years to find it, then another to see it…then some time to believe it…but for the first time in my life I really have gone through all of the steps to figuring out what I would love to do.

Now…I just have to grind for it.

Evan Sanders
The Better Man Project