Tuesday September 02, 2014

Discussing what constitues a legacy


View from the Cheap Seats is kind of an extension of the newsroom. Whenever our three regular reporters, Calvin Daniels, Thom Barker and Randy Brenzen are in the building together, it is frequently a site of heated debate. This week: What would you like your legacy to be?

Limited expectations

I have been saying for many years now that when I am gone what I want people to remember about me is that I was an interesting person.

Of course, when I was younger, I had grandiose fantasies. At various times, I saw myself growing up to be a record-breaking baseball star, a ground-breaking visual artist, a renowned poet, a famous musician and an extraordinary novelist.

In retrospect, I never had the focus or discipline to turn any of those dreams into concrete goals. If I had had the discipline and focus, I have to admit now I may not have ever had the talent required to make them reality.

I have managed, however, to have a lot of fun and, for the most part, live a very fulfilling life, so far. I’ve had a wonderful family, several careers, and travelled a fair bit. And it’s not anywhere close to being over. I now have a grandbaby, I feel like I may have a couple of careers left in me and I plan to keep writing and travelling until I am unable to.

The great thing about aging, at least for me, has been the freedom from the pressure of my own expectations. I am no longer motivated by personal glory. I no longer suffer regrets of possible opportunities lost. To borrow an oft-quoted cliché, I am comfortable in my own skin.

That doesn’t mean I don’t want to make my third act my best act for me and those who I love. I also want to make some kind of contribution to society

Ultimately, very few people are ever widely remembered beyond a couple of generations and most of us not at all. I am fine with that. Eventually, our entire species will only be remembered in the fossil record.

So, in terms of a personal legacy, I hope the people who knew me feel like I did more good than bad. I hope that I will have managed to contribute to my descendants’ having a good quality of life. I really can’t ask for more than that.

-Thom Barker

It was interesting when the idea of legacy was suggested as a topic for this space.

I say that because when one turns 50, as I did a few years ago now, I think the idea of legacy is one we begin to ponder in more detail.

There are different levels of legacy for we humans.

The most talented amongst us, Isaac Newton, William Shakespeare, Frank Sinatra and Gordie Howe as examples, have achieved a level of immortality most of us can never hope to achieve. Their names, lives and achievement are part of our collective history and culture, and as such they will forever be known and remembered.

I will admit one of the first thoughts I had holding the first copy of ‘Skating the Edge’ my first book printed in 2001, was that it was a little bit of immortality.

No I had no grand illusions the book was going to be a best seller, and make my name a household one like J.R.R. Tolkien and Stephen King, but there was the thought that long after I die the book would survive.

Books by nature are far more enduring than the human vessel. Once purchased, most books survive to have long lives. They may end up handed from reader-to-reader through the years, but rare is that someone who appreciates books enough to purchase and read them will toss them to the trash bin.

But in the end the best any of us, Howe or Tolkien, or myself, can hope for is the legacy of family.

We create our most meaningful legacy when we have children. How we raise them, the understanding of right and wrong, of caring, of tolerance, of all those things which make any of us good members of society, is our greatest challenge. But the results of our effort, how are children grow into adults, is the reward.

In their genes we live another generation.

If we are lucky we may see our grandchildren born, and know that yet another generation will carry a little bit of who we are forward in the years after death takes us.

In the end the only legacy which matters is our children.

— Calvin Daniels

My esteemed ‘Cheap Seats’ colleagues have a slight advantage here.  Due to their age they’ve already put a lot of work into their personal legacies!

Meanwhile I’ve only just begun to create mine. So with that being said, I’d like my personal legacy to be a good one (obviously).

I’d like it if, when I am dead and gone, that people would remember me as that sports guy who’d come up with interesting (yet most likely useless) sports facts that would make people think (did you know baseball was played in the 1750’s in Guildford, UK, over 80 years before it was ‘invented’ in the US).

I also have a dream to help bring baseball to Africa. So, with that being said, I’d like to be looked at as that guy who helped grow the sport of baseball throughout the world (I’ve already done this in England, so I’m somewhat on my way!).

But the most important thing is simple. I’d just like to be remembered as a nice and friendly person who was regarded as one of the most helpful people around.

Hopefully I have many years left to build this personal legacy!

— Randy Brenzen



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