Monday, June 18, 2007

What's your Legacy?

The months leading up to my recent college reunion brought about overwhelming feelings of failure, remorse and regret and I could not understand why. Although my career, my relationships and my physical location have taken a completely different direction then the map I laid out for myself in school, the experiences were well worth the change; making friends from all over the world, seeing far and exciting places and meeting and marrying my soul mate to name just a few. If I had followed my dreams rather then my opportunities, I would have missed out on everything I have now. Knowing all that, I could not get past the dream I abandoned; life in the political fast-lane. After countless months of soul searching it dawned on me that my childhood dream of going into politics aligned with my desire to leave a lasting mark on this world. Had my choice to forgo a career in political equated to ending my chance of leaving a legacy?

One of the hardest things to come to terms with when making the decision to be childfree is the thought of leaving nothing behind when you are gone. Many of us have seen the successories poster on a wall that says; "A hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove...but the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child." Although it is possible to make an impact on a child that is not your own, being a parent provides real evidence to the next generations that you existed. While continuing to make the children of family and friends a top priority in my life, I realized it was important to leave my own legacy behind, but a major question remained; what could I possibly bring to the world as a product manager and business architect?

While my career choice brought me tons of opportunities, no one remembers what I accomplished last year let alone the next generation. Looking beyond my career at ways to leave a mark on the world, I realized the one thing I have that will last beyond me is my photos. Not that I am Ansel Adams with my art displayed in museums for millions to view, but my hobby and love delivers a more personal impact, capturing life’s little moments; a child’s laugh, a mother’s glance, a pet’s smile, a friend’s smirk. On vacation, I jump at the opportunity to take a photo of a family desiring to have everyone included. Nothing fills me with more joy then knowing families around the globe have a photo I took of them in their albums, seeing a photo I took on someone’s wall, hearing a teenager express surprise at how beautiful they are and capturing the everyday to remember it for all days to come.

"Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. What you have caught on film is captured forever . . . it remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything." -Aaron Siskind

Webster’s defines legacy as something handed down from an ancestor or a predecessor from the past and that is what I hope to accomplish through my photography. I might not be penning novels that are read 200 years from now, or delivering speeches that change the course of humanity, but I hope the impact of my work brings joy to many. If one of my photos is hanging on someone’s wall in the future as the connection they have with family and friends of the past, if I can show people beauty they are unaware they possess, then that is the piece of me I left behind for future generations, and to me there is nothing more important I can accomplish in life.

My favorite photo of me and my Grandmother, Greenwood Lake, 1989-ish. Whoever took this photo, thank you.

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