It was in 2016 when I started to hear the term “legacy” used in great frequency around me, just shortly after I had began training under Sensei Saulo and Xande Ribeiro at the University of Jiu Jitsu in San Diego. At the time I was far too undeveloped in my thinking and ways, or so I make up, to truly grasp the meaning or the significance of the word. Nowadays I understand legacy to mean “what you will be remembered for after you leave this earth”. A pure and fundamental measure of one’s impact, their body of work in this seemingly long, all the while short time on this earth. I say short because in the scheme of things you could live to be one hundred years old and hardly be remembered by anyone on a global scale and if so, forgotten in a fraction of the time you spent on this giant rock. While the fatalists and/or pessimists might take this to mean that life carries little significance I think regardless of whether or not that is true, it is an easy way out. A cop out or otherwise coping mechanism. I say this because rather than taking on the responsibility of trying to achieve something great, it can easily become a way to avoid pushing yourself to your limits and discovering how much juice you can squeeze out of the fruit of life itself. Life is after all a fascinating escapade, a movie where you are the star character accompanied by endless twists and turns, only to be concluded by a truly unimaginable destination as “the movie” comes to an end. But, the show must go on, so why not make your movie as interesting, exciting or meaningful as possible? I estimate that many of you did not see yourself being exactly where you are at this moment in time but I digress. In regards to the significance of legacy and the impact your life can or will have, try this thought experiment. Envision yourself lying in a casket. Who will be there, what will make up the contents of the eulogy that is being read? Will your funeral or celebration of life be joined by many or few? This is a way I learned to view your “dent in the world” as Steve Jobs used to quote. While financial security has it’s cachet, how many lives will you affect and how? The likes of Thomas Edison, Da Vinci, and Copernicus are still remembered to this day as are Stalin, Mao and Hitler, although one group obviously left behind a legacy of oppression and terror while the other contributed to endless innovation and advancement of technology still used to this day.
Why do I think legacy important? Because it is a nutshell of the person you were or tried to be. While not everyone can be Mother Theresa or Mahatma Ghandi, one can still aspire to leave a lasting ripple effect on this earth. Your legacy can also be directly correlated to the life you wish to live. But only once you choose to define it. Like any goal, until clearly outlined its fruition is unlikely to manifest. In my case, I want to be remembered for kindness, courage and humor. My feeling is that when I leave this earth, those who know me will only remember me for how I made them feel rather than what I did, so I choose to be remembered as a compassionate soul who was very capable of danger. Men and women of historical significance are often identified by their courageous acts, but their remembrance should not serve as the reason courage is important, rather that ALL the greatest gifts of life are made possible through such merit. The greatest innovations, food, wars, love and accomplishments were all made possible through acts of bravery and fearlessness. It is far more difficult and honorable to choose courage, to stand up for others or what is right. Giving the gift of laughter or a smile to someone is equally priceless because the world needs more smiles and laughter over than scowls and frowns. When you go what will your memory serve as? I hope it’s as great as you are capable of.