A woman who volunteers at my work is taking a class called Your Personal Legacy, and yesterday, I
asked her how it was going. “It makes
you ask yourself hard questions,” she said.
Curious, I asked her what kind.
“Well, for example, it asks you to list your favorite things to do.”
Not so hard, right? But here’s the thing. Ten years ago, I would have had trouble with
that answer, too. I would have analyzed
my responses. I would have tried to
decide what sounded better, and I would have struggled, really, to identify
what made me happy. At that point, I was
slogging through full-time employment, full-time motherhood, and full-time
disappointment in myself.
Notwithstanding marrying my husband and my raising our daughter, the two most important things, I hadn’t accomplished
anything that mattered to me. I didn't love the job I'd been at for twenty-three years, but those golden-type handcuffs had me stuck. When weekends arrived, I resented anyone who took hours away
from my home and family. I wasn’t
writing regularly and had buried the desire to do so, so deep I didn't understand it would save me. That changed all because, alone at home, eighteen hours after a sudden layoff, I had no idea what to do, so I plopped
myself in front of the computer to document my feelings. Then, with zero forethought, I cut and pasted
them into a blog. The first time I pressed “publish" defined me and
Over the seven years since, I’ve written perhaps
millions of words. The poems help with
current hurts and the novels have given me confidence that I can set goals and
achieve them. But best of all, the
personal essays that have appeared here have healed me and taught me about
myself. All the words that have spilled out since
the morning I wrote that first post have eliminated brain clutter and helped to
clarify the thoughts within. Sometimes
lately, I think I’ve done it, that I’ve cleaned out all the detritus that
resides in me. But then, a churning begins again and I end
up in front of the computer, focused in a way most pure, in a zone where I am
totally in tune with myself, writing, writing, writing. I’ve poured so much out here, when someone asked me a question about myself, instead of having to sift through all the
junk in my proverbial attic, I identify
my feelings and unpack them rather quickly, as it were.
For the record, I rattled off my favorite things to do without
hesitating during that recent conversation.
My answer went like this: Writing, reading, and going out with my
But my personal legacy?
That one’s easy. I don’t have to
take a class for that one. My legacy
is Middle Passages. It’s this.
What's your personal legacy?