I had an appointment with my GP on Friday. He is a pretty straight shooter who seems to know exactly what to say to get his point across. In recent weeks, he has given me a stern talking to for rescheduling meetings with him in favor of work related needs. In my last few visits, he noticed that I usually yawn and lose my focus when explaining details. When he asked about work-life-balance, I, supposedly, laughed and looked away. He doesn't approve of these things. He told me so.
He was talking me through the next steps for some health stuff, and in that process he just stopped, mid-sentence, and said: "What do want your legacy to be?"
Me: My legacy? (Internal dialogue: I thought I was visiting my GP?)
Amazing GP with a strong British accent which sounds very authoritative:
Your legacy. We've been working on your health, and you're making considerable progress, but now I have to ask you, what's the legacy you want to leave? Why are we doing all of this? To put it in context, I had a patient who was the picture of perfect health- cyclist, runner, triathalon. Strong career development. 5o years old. And I just diagnosed him with a massive brain tumor. Pretty much terminal. And his first response was: "This messes up my legacy. I was supposed to get to my legacy from 50-65." To which I said: "Life doesn't have guaranteed timelines." And so he said: "Make sure your other patients have that reminder." So, I am committed to asking my patients: what do you want your legacy to be? Your life is limited so how do you want those minutes to be invested?
What followed was a pretty fantastic conversation that somehow included talks about boundaries and Mari Kondo and travel. I am not sure how that all unfolded, but it did and all in 25 minutes. Those minutes led to a weekend of processing.
What do I want my legacy to be?
I have snippets of my answers, wrapped into a few key adjectives: social justice warrior; child advocate; well-being educator; community builder. Edem motherer. Author. School owner. Visionary. Inspirirer.
I am not sure that I have a full answer to that question, though. I somehow think there's a great power in just the asking. And a great awakening in realizing that I might be off track in my process of living the answer to that question.
What about you? Do you have an answer for the legacy question? If not, do you have snippets of the answer? What are they?
Erin Michelle Threlfall
Artist, Activist, and Educator, Erin is the mother of a budding genius in his 13th year of study. Erin and her little man, Edem, have a plan to investigate world Theater and influence education one continent at a time. Ghana, South Korea, Togo, Bali, and US have been checked off the list of places to live; these days they call Switzerland home.