Each of us has been created for a special purpose. Maybe it’s for what we’ll teach a friend, or the way we’ll help a sister or a brother. Every day will give us chances to offer our special talents to others. Our being alive is a way of proving that we’re important to the family, the neighborhood, the world.
I have often wondered what my legacy would be, if any. I think for a long time I feared it wouldn’t be of any great note, which is one of the reasons I had my son. I know he is a strong legacy for me, not only because he exists but because he is a special person and I believe he will achieve great things in his life.
The funny thing about those with low self-esteem, which I had growing up and for a good portion of my adulthood is that there is an out of whack ego that accompanies it. It’s called being ‘the piece of shit at the center of the Universe’. As much as we hate ourselves or think poorly of ourselves in comparison to others or believe no one cares about us, we are in fact doing an awful lot of thinking about ourselves and how we are perceived. The manipulative nature of Al-Anon, a 12 step program I have been a part of for many years, is partially the need to control someones perception of you. It’s one of the things that keeps you bound to an addict, that makes you a caretaker of someone who can’t accept true help and makes you put yourself behind another (see Blog post: Walking Behind You; http://wp.me/p2ofi2-lH)
It’s an odd thing, this yin and yang of the ego in those who think poorly of themselves. We think about it a lot. I have often had long philosophical thoughts about whether I matter to people, whether I am ever thought of by anyone or whether I just drift in and out of others lives without making an impact. On one hand, of course, these are valid thoughts, we all likely think of them to some degree. We want to matter to people, to be needed and loved, but I know my obsession with it has been, well, an obsession at times. What would my obituary say, would people come to my funeral? What am I really here to do?
I do believe we are all here to serve a purpose to someone(s). Those of us who are parents obviously serve a purpose to our children but I know it must go beyond that. We had lives before parenthood and are involved in others things as well (work, other family, charity, hobbies, etc…) afterwards. I may have given my son life yet equally I may be what hurts his life if I parent him poorly. Can that be purposeful? I am I here to teach him THAT potentially poor lesson? I was in a store today and thinking about how horribly wrong a relationship I had with a client went. It had strong potential but we think about things too differently, how to treat people, what is important, morals, ethics and so on to be able to continue to be friends or work together. I thought, and have previously, “Well, we’ll never forget one another, that’s for sure. It may not be good, we may have learned some lessons, we may not be in one another’s lives for the rest of our lives but we each made a mark on the other”. Hey, it’s something. It’s not what I wish it was but it is what it is because it ain’t gonna be different. We are very different. YET, we stayed in one anothers lives for a long time. I learned lessons that’s for sure. I imagine she did as well. Some were positive and fun, others have helped shape how I think about things and treat others. As they say, some people stay forever, some people stay a season. We have to learn from somewhere.
I do believe there is a truth to helping others and that is why we are here. I don’t believe that if I give a dollar to the homeless man on the street his life is changed but it may be altered for that night. Perhaps he’ll use that dollar to buy a slice of pizza and eat that night which will then allow him to sleep better that night and wake up the next morning with a better outlook. Yes, he’s homeless still, I am not a saviour, but perhaps the notion of paying it forward does make sense.
I know at this age I have great influence on my son. It’s a hard relationship at times being a single mom but we’re thick as thieves and it’s a very close bond. I am grateful every moment of every day of having him in my life. Some things I do will stick with him and shape him, while, other things, and I do work hard to make these as few as possible, will put him off me, influence him poorly or send him in a bad direction. If he listens to me about drugs and cigarettes and stays away from both I’ll feel my job’s been done. Hopefully he’ll also treat people as I’ve tried to instill in him and work hard to achieve things he cares about.
I know I have influenced clients whom I have gotten work and who make a living from the work I do for them. Equally, I have left clients. Does that matter? How important am I at every step of the way? I don’t remember everyone who I’ve spent time with in life, so not everyone will remember me.
More important than how important am I and here is where I take the focus off myself and out it onto the world surrounding me is “How important is what comes from what I do?” My son, everything he does and is shown in the world, what inspires me in my work or other creative passions, love and intimacy, who I’ve hurt and what is means if I do, as well as how I react to those who hurt me. These are important things, these are legacies, these are what frames ones character. I hope my influence goes beyond my son only because I am here so far for 43 years and I’d like to have an impact. I don’t know if what I do in my life will be earth shatteringly important making the front page of the New York Times. I think that’s one of the reasons I work in a job where I can try and help other’s have some influence in the entertainment world.
I’d like people, such as the women I sponsor in 12 Step, to feel I’ve contributed to my life as they have mine – I’d like people who counted on me and whom I came through for to appreciate that. I’d like those who saw I was good and funny and kind to remember that and not listen to the crap that can sometimes be generated by my own bad press. I want my son to think I am the greatest person who ever lived and to see me as a human being who made mistakes but loved him through them all and to know he felt it every moment of the day. That’s what’s important.
In the meantime, a good deed a day has to have some impact and I’m going to work on achieving that in some regard as stated above – some one is feeling me, just as I feel the impact of people on me, those who may not think they mean a lot but do. We need to connect with one another and let people know they matter to us. We have to focus on what is outside ourselves with the same energy with which we focus on who we are and what we mean to the world. We may never know the answer or the number of people who have felt us, but this isn’t about keeping tabs. This is about living our lives in a complicated world, pouring out positive energy, helpful energy, compassionate energy when able and being open and available to receive the same.