Sunday, February 27, 2011

"On Legacy: Part II," by Aimee.

"For you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” -Bible Passage (Genesis 3:19)

What will you leave behind when you are gone? What kind of person were you when it really mattered? What impact did you make on the world? How will you be remembered?

These are the questions I am going to explore today. On my birthday this year, I shared my "bucket list" with the world: a list of all of the things that I would like to do or see before I die. While, it's important to have lifelong goals, I think it's also important to think about what I can do to fulfill my own life on a daily basis.

What will you leave behind when you are gone? People generally think of possessions with this question, but really, I have minimal possessions... a car that gets great (35+) mpg (an '07 Toyota Yaris 4-door), lots of artwork hanging all over my house, books that nobody but Rachel or an english teacher would want, clothes of all types that I hope Tom will donate to Goodwill or the Salvation Army, and a few important documents. Mainly, my Copyright for The Lost Romantic, (which still needs a copy edit before it can go to an editor- after a disastrously unhelpful agent search). My four rescued cats will be in good hands with Tom- he kisses all of them all the time.

But I like to think beyond mere possessions. What will I leave behind when I am gone? I think to my career and the lessons I have shared with the now 250+ students I have taught for at least a year. (See the iMovie video I made last fall about the "Top ten lessons in Ms. Nadow's class" and while Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (the first one) is super silly, the rest are not.)

I should be grateful to my teachers who shared these lessons with me first. My mother, my dad, Kim & Jeanine, Ms. MacPherson, Mrs. Mendes, Mrs. Voght, Mrs. Doyle, Mr. McGlone, Mrs. Sparfven-Areson, Mr. Glass, Mrs. Hebert, Ms. Rosa, Mr. Sawyer, Mr. Rainier, Mme. Lamoreaux, Mme. Gabaude, Mme. Kozaka, Mr. Ferruccio, Ms. Simmonds, Mr. Bennett, Mr. Wollman, Mr. Gullette, Ms. Bettencourt, Dr. Turner, Mr. Soto, Mrs. Moran, Mrs. Craven, and more... What were the most important lessons you've learned from a teacher? What lessons have stuck with you over the years?

I would also leave memories behind. People behind. Family behind. Friends behind. It is comforting to know that I will linger for a little while in the memories I have shared with people.

What kind of person were you when it really mattered? Katrina? Check. Oil Spill in the Gulf? Check. Haiti? Check. Heifer International? Check. American Cancer Society's Relay for Life? Check. Susan G. Komen's 3-day for the cure? Check. Alzheimer's Center? Check. Red Cross? Check. The Renaissance Project? Check. Blood donations? Over a gallon so far. I'm always looking for ways to give back. Let me know if you have any!

Inspiring stories of giving: After the B.P. oil spill in the gulf last summer, our student council at school raised several hundred dollars from dance tickets and "Hall-o-grams", for the American Red Cross and even cut their hair in a giant school wide assembly to stuff the booms with for coastal safety. 

In Boston, my B.L.S. students raised enough money to donate animals to help build a sustainable life for an international community in need through Heifer International. To watch my quick commercial for Heifer International (from a Great Movie Project with the 8th graders, click here!) To see other student-created commercials about many charities & causes for this project, click here!)

While I was walking the Susan G. Komen "3-Day for the Cure" with Rachel, we encountered so many legacy walkers and volunteers, the stories were so inspiring. From the woman who had walked 9 times, to the survivor-volunteers who had walked the 60-miles previously who were back to lend a helping hand. Move ahead to 13:00 in our video to see for yourself.

Yes, I've done some things that I can be proud of, but the real question is: how can I help more? That's something I'm going to try to think about and work on harder. I'm open to feedback and suggestions! :)

What impact did you make on the world? Hopefully none: if we're talking about Carbon Footprint, but I know that I've definitely added my share of trash. I'm so proud that Massachusetts gave out the extra large "streamlined: No Sort" recycling bins to homeowners; boy, does that make sense. Here in Florida, recycling is an amenity for homeowners only. Giant apartment buildings and condominium and townhouse subdivisions either don't recycle or are so badly managed that it's impossible to recycle, the nearest recycling center being forty miles away. Clearly that is a cause near and dear to my heart and I should see how I can advocate to improve access to recycling. 

But if we're walking about a legacy in what I've left behind: an unedited novel for one (I'm still proud of it). Lots of children understanding Carpe Diem, and many other life lessons, and I hope a sympathetic memory. I hope I can be buried in the "Green Funeral" Nicole made me aware of or cremated to have my ashes dumped at Newport's First Beach and off of Mt. Washington and that I can return to the Earth the way nature intended, as dust.

How will you be remembered? I'll leave that to you to think about. I hope well. The questions that arise from this topic, are: Will you endow a fellowship or scholarship to a deserving student at your college of choice? Will you leave remembrance gifts for your family and loved ones? Will you donate your heritage to a charity? I can only add that I hope my Facebook wall will remain a place for people to think of me or remember and enjoy my life with me again. 

Vita brevis: vade mecum: Life is short, go with me.