Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Building the legacy you want.
Posted by Todd Newton
I agree with Emerson (and Sinatra) that being yourself in a world designed to force you to be otherwise, force you to be like others, is a great accomplishment. As far as legacy is concerned, I think my goal would be to have others say I taught them to do this. Whether it be my children, my friends, or people who read my books, all I truly care about leaving behind is the indomitable spirit of confidence and standing up for yourself that I see lacking in many people (particularly writers) I know.
Ultimately, I've come to realize that a great many things we obsess about have no real bearing. It's how we react to them that makes the real difference. I suppose, in that direction, my legacy would be to clarify the age-old truth that perception creates reality.
Not only is this an incredibly difficult thing to explain, it's also not the way the world wants you to think. Advertising creates reality, if you're an avid television-watcher. How else do you think so much Pepsi and Coke get sold? Your soda selection, or lack thereof, has no real bearing on your lifestyle. No one thinks you're "cooler" for choosing Pepsi over Coke, but the advertisers sure want you to believe it. Beer commercials are even worse at this, even though nearly everyone I know who enjoys beer avoid the Big Three (Bud/Coors/Miller) unless there's no other choice or they have a very good reason.
For those who can't see through label-based demand, paying a higher price for the same quality simply because of brand awareness, I think it's difficult to stand on their own. They're defined by other things, other people, and can't imagine what they would be like without those.
If I had one wish for my legacy, it would be to break this cycle of dependency. Like Emerson himself, I would want, posthumously or otherwise, to encourage self-reliance. Not to have people look toward me for inspiration and strength, but to search inside themselves--and find it just the same.
What am I doing to make that a reality? Well, they say the first step is admission.
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