Every day our thoughts, words and actions are impacting the world. We may think that as individuals we have very little impact on the world around us. Reality couldn’t be more from the truth. This article is about the impact we all have on the lives of others and asking the question what legacy are we leaving behind for others to follow.
One Day You Will Die
We all agree that life is short. That our life is bit a drop in an endless ocean. We can all also agree that nobody really has an accurate crystal ball as to what minute on what day we will die. Most people don’t want to think about the fact that one day they will die. But the undeniable fact is that we all will some day.
What Will You Leave Behind?
The question I beg to ask is what legacy will you leave to those that come after you?
How will family, friends and associates remember you?
What impact would you have made on the world you leave behind?
The Little Things
These are big questions yet the answers need not be massive world changing things. I am not talking about having been remembered for finding the cure for cancer. Nor of being the first woman president. I am talking about the little things. For in the end, it isn’t the grand gestures and accomplishments that others will necessarily remember you for. Instead it is the little things. It is the difference you make in the lives of others on a daily basis. They will more likely remember you for your smile, your heart, how you helped others and how you made them feel.
I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
It is those little daily things that accumulate into what we call a life. It is these lifetime of little things that create big lives and big differences. But before I go any further, I want to divert for a moment to let you know how I came about to write this article.
The Mountain of Heart
Recently I went for a bush walk to The Knoll National Park. It is part of Mt Tamborine National Park in the sunny Gold Coast hinterland of Queensland, Australia. The stunningly beautiful and picturesque mountain escarpment has fertile soils for growing avacados, mangoes, passion fruit, apples, rhubarb and kiwifruit. Though a lot of the escarpment was cleared for agriculture in the early days of settlement, an effort was made to protect the natural values of the area. In 1908 Witches Falls was declared the first National Park in Queensland. The foothills and parts of the mountain are covered in subtropical rainforest and the wild life is spectacular.
Going for a bushwalk through The Knoll National Park to Cameron Falls takes you down into a rainforest filled with giant trees and strangler figs towering above. It is like entering another world. Upon walking in the shade of the rainforest, breathing in the fresh air and taking in the earthy smells, the temperature drop is significant. The coolness is a result of the rainforest trees providing a protective canopy.
Walking through this world it is easy to lose your thoughts and be enveloped in one’s senses. Everywhere I look there is life. Looking up into the trees there are mosses, ferns and vines and birds whos calls echo throughout the forest. On the forest floor you can hear lizards rustling in the leaf litter looking for a patch of sun to warm their cold bodies. There are bush turkeys scratching away in the leaf litter and if you are lucky you will catch glimpse or hear the call of an elusive lyre bird.
The Kookaburra Guide
It is easy to lose yourself in the forest. To forget your worries and let your child-like curiosity come forth. That is what I like about natural forests – it is easy to lose your mind and become present. Forests and other natural environments have an incredibly positive impact on our psyche and mental and physical well-being. Natural environments can help us heal, recover and rejuvenate us.
People living on the mountain have always known this. As I was leaving the forest, a kookaburra that had greeted me at the start of the walk was there again at the end. We looked at each other and my heart was filled with great appreciation as I thought about the wisdom and foresight of those that came before us to protect the natural wonders of this place.
Seeing With My Heart
As I entered the car and drove down the road, only a few hundred metres I noticed a sign that I had not seen before. I am sure it was always there but it is incredible how our perception changes when our thoughts do. I think they call it our ‘reticular activating system’. Our brains are constantly gathering information and then filtering and prioritising the bits of data that is relevant rather than overhwelming us with too much information.
It is like when you decide to buy a certain model of car and all of a sudden you begin to ‘notice’ them everywhere. Well, that is what began to happen as I drove away that day feeling very appreciative and grateful for the natural beauty around me.
My eye had caught a sign that read Jack’s Forest. A small pathway only a few metres led into lush subtropical forest filled with tree ferns, palms and towering forest giants. At the end of the path was a stone fireplace. This is what remained of Jack Steven’s house. Jack Stevens and his father in 1948 had built ‘The Cabin’ from local Canungra Blood-wood and Tallow-wood trees. He donated The Cabin and his 4 acres of land to ‘The Knoll National Park’ prior to his death in 1988 aged 66.
Jack was concerned that his beloved forest would be developed after his death and so he ‘sold’ it to the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service for one dollar. Thus preserving this patch of rainforest for future generations. As I stood there reading the plaque on the stone fireplace and enveloped in the greenery around me I felt such a deep sense of gratitude for a man that I didn’t know but could feel his presence and his heart for this forest.
What began to dawn on me was that Jack’s cabin may have deteriorated to a point that only the stone fireplace had remained, and yet his legacy will live on. Jack had defied death in the sense that his love of nature will live on as part of our heritage.
As this energy of gratitude had engulfed me, my mind, heart and senses began to fire up – my reticular activating system was activated. Only a few metres away I saw a bench with a plaque in memory of James Roger Bolton who had also generously donated 13 hectares of land to become part of this forest. The plaque read,
In memory of James (Jim) Roger Bolton
4-7-1931 – 26-3-2010
A simple and unassuming man to the world and a kind and gentle man to his friends. He generously donated 13 Ha of land in Knoll Road to Tamborine National Park to preserve and protect a part of the mountain he loved and cared for.
I wish I had knew these two men. Yet their character I could feel through their love of nature.
From here I drove to a beautiful patch of rainforest I have visited many times and now with my reticular activating system programmed to gratitude I began to see this spot differently too. The 29 acres of virgin rainforest was donated by a Miss Jessie McDonald, whom no doubt must have held the same respect and love of the mountain.
Love Is Immortal
As I explored the mountain further I began to discover other people and the patches of forest that they too had ensured their preservation. There is Eve’s, Darlington’s, and Crawford’s Corners and Howard’s Place. All patches of thick lush forests along the roads on the mountain that were bequeathed to the Trustee For Mount Tamborine Rainforest Fund. What started as a trickle had in my exploration become a flood of like-minded people who’s vision was to share their love with others.
Together We Create An Ocean
My last spot I stopped for that day was at Esme Street Conservation Park. It is heartening to see community come together to preserve and restore forests. This remnant rainforest has been regenerated by community volunteers from Tamborine Mountain Landcare and through the assistance of local council. Individuals and community coming together with great heart, vision and foresight can help leave a lasting legacy.
Now that was some diversion. This story was to illustrate just how we all can have a great impact on others that transcends time. As I sit here penning these thoughts my heart is still filled with love for those who have given me the opportunity to experience nature in all its beauty. To allow me to wander through with wonder through the forests. To help me clear my mind and give me health.
Be You and Share Yourself
Now, coming back to you. The greatest gift you can give others is to be yourself and share yourself with the world. We often hide our greatness afraid that others will not accept us. This can lead to never truly feeling happy and yourself. Others can sense this. Let yourself go and share your interests, love and thoughts with others. You can see how these individuals above continue to inspire me and others beyond the grave.
Heart Lives On
None of these people seemed remarkable in what we see as big achievements, yet they have achieved immortality by sharing their love and passion for what they felt in their heart. Just remember though, you are alive. Do not a leave a legacy after your death.
Every Drop Is Creating An Ocean
Leave a legacy while you are living. Every thought, word and action in every moment is creating our future and having an impact on others and the world. You are a drop in the ocean, but it takes every drop of water to make an ocean. Every drop affects the whole. Every day remember it is the little drops, the little thoughts, words and actions that create the ocean of your life and that of humanity.
Make sure you leave a legacy every day. Every night, ask yourself these questions:
Have I smiled or made someone else smile?
Have I be kind to others?
Have I made a little difference in the lives of others?
If you can answer yes to any of these questions you know you have truly lived. Nobody knows when you will die. You may not get up tomorrow. How would it be to do so with a smile on your face and great warmth in your heart knowing that you had in your own small way made a difference today?
Our Loving Daily
Practising kindness and gratitude daily are easy and yet change your world and that of others. It is making a cuppa for a loved one in the morning, complimenting someone on how lovely they look, smiling at a total stranger, helping someone out with money for a meal, truly listening to those around us without judgement. What example are you providing to your children and those around you? There are countless little drops that you can daily add to this ocean of love.
Your Greatest Asset Is Your Heart
Not all of us can be in a position to leave land as their legacy, yet if you understood the message of my words, what all those people of the mountain had really left was a piece of their heart for us to enjoy. They left us with their love of the bush, their passion and kindness. We all can learn from their example and to daily leave a legacy of love in our wake.
What Is Your Lasting Legacy?
How will you be remembered when you die tomorrow? And you will definitely die tomorrow. When that tomorrow comes you will not know. Make every moment of every day an opportunity to leave a lasting legacy of love.