I once had lunch in Paris with a leader from a multi-billion dollar organization. It was a very ordinary hour with ordinary conversation as I tried to pick at his brain for knowledge nuggets of gold. That day, I am sure I learned something important about business practices. However, nothing stuck in my head over the years from that lunch except for one thing; making a legacy.
That sort of thing never really worried me before. Legacy is what heroes and Greek gods loved to dream about in movies. What kind of legacy can I leave behind if it doesn’t change the world? But he put it very simply. He shared a Chinese proverb that said “every [hu]man should plant a tree, write a book, and have a child.” Since then, I have pondered the value of each of these things.
If you plant a tree, you give back to the earth that gave you so much. You help build, perhaps, the most crucial part of mother earth, and what you plant most likely lives longer than your remaining years on Earth. This silent legacy provides shelter for generations after you. If it’s a fruit tree, it provides good health as well.
The only way your words will outlive you accurately is if you choose them yourself and mark them with ink. I have often wondered what my ancestors may have thought in their days, and I hope that my descendants will feel the same about me and this generation. You carve your words into eternity when you write a book for your legacy.
A child is your human canvas to raise the way you think is best. You teach them everything you can about life and your learnings, just like your parents and their parents did. But the legacy will not live through your teachings. That is what your book is for. Your legacy with your child is passing on your genes to future generations. Fast-forward hundreds of years to the future and all your offspring are alive because you existed and passed on your genetic material.
Sure, the tree you planted could catch a disease and die too young. The book you wrote may be lost to a fire. The child you brought into this world may simply choose not to have children. But, at least you tried to mark your presence on this Earth and build a legacy before you passed on so that you will be remembered.
What do you think? Should anything else be added to this list?