The Things We Leave Behind

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I want the environment to be my legacy.

When I was younger, I used to tell myself that the greatest accomplishment in life would be that people remembered me, and if I achieved that then I would be immortalized in memory if not in spirit and body. That idea contented me and I grew up continuing to wonder in what area could it be that I could leave my legacy. After all, there are so many different ways to leave one’s legacy that the culmination of all of them would span a great many books and would take more than one lifetime to achieve. The old writing tip that goes “write what you know best” was no great help to me because there are a great many things I love and more that I could grow to deeply enjoy.

The matter fell to finding just what exactly I deeply enjoyed. While 18 years haven’t quite revealed an answer, I entertain the idea that I understand in what broad category I find my passion and that is the outdoors. Whether fishing, hiking, or camping; I feel most at home among the wilderness’s gentle song.

I just finished a book entitled “Listen to the Earth and it Will Teach You: The Life and Times of Earl Douglass” which is the culmination of diary entries from the man and accompanying narrative entries by the man’s son. Earl Douglass was many things in his lifetime and the titles do not fall short of poet, philosopher, writer, teacher, archeologist, and father. The content within this book made me realize that everything I do and every move I make IS my legacy. The diaries he kept over the years are evident that even the words and work we do in private may be a source of criticism and inspiration for later generations that stumble upon it.

Even me, a half-Caucasian, half-Japanese young man living in Colorado found the words of a long-passed Utah native inspiring to the point of wonderment. Somehow, the words, mind, and philosophy of this man found their way into my hands and by that he left a legacy without perhaps intending his journals to become so.

It is the same with all great men and women who left a mark, their mark, on the world. They did not do anything for the fame and fortune inherent in their work but for the thrill of the work itself. It wasn’t a façade of life but the culmination of their life that is their legacy.

Perhaps that is why we become happy with our life’s work, for it is the entirety of our lives we leave behind.

Even words left behind in long forgotten journals have the potential for enormous philosophical changes to occur in the minds of men.

Then, I thought of myself and my life and the words I will leave behind for those who come after and realized that the only way to leave behind something called a legacy is to live life worthy of it at all. It’s not our singular actions as scholars or family members or a book written or a movie created but the entirety of all our aspects that in the end will become that which we leave behind.

If the outdoors is my passion, and the thing I hold most dear to my heart. Seeking it out and living a life in line with it is where in my future lies. Not in waiting to “get older” but in moving myself to action now. Earl Douglass lived his life in a certain way and has imparted upon me the knowledge to live mine.

To the mountains I go to find myself reflected in the countenance of rock, wood, and life.

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