The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave it neither power nor time. – Mary Oliver
I circled back to this quote time and again last week, as I sat down to refine my why, my purpose. Why do I do what I do? Why do I think it is important? What do I want to offer to the world? What is my legacy?
As someone who doesn’t have children, my work is my legacy. This isn’t the 9-5 job, but The Work that defines me, that fills me with joy, that nourishes me. For me, that is art…soulful living…tarot…the intersection between the three, which, for me, is the area of magic and mystery and growth and healing.
There are times when it is all flowing and eddying around beautifully, and I am at peace. There are times when there are creative plateaus, during which I have a lot of fallback options…in journaling, tarot inquiry, and constant learning. And there are times when everything gets tangled up in the weight of society’s expectations and the constant battle cry of monetization and not enoughness and external markers of success.
Figuring out my legacy: the questions that plague me
During these tangled times, I find myself plagued by questions that seem to have no answers.
- Is my worth measured in the number of comments and likes my art or writing receives?
- Is success marked by the number of tarot readings I do for clients each month? In art sales? In the number of workshops I host?
- Is my enoughness defined by the car I drive or the brands I flaunt, in the holidays I go for and the resorts I stay in?
- Why am I even thinking about defining my legacy?
I dropped out of the rat race a long time ago. I’m not chasing promotions, a higher designation, a fancier job. I’m happy with a 9to5 that pays me decently well and gives me good work-life balance, so I have the resources to follow my passions. Sometimes, I wonder if I am silly – my passions are not making me rich and famous. They’re the quiet kind of joys: painting, reading the tarot, cuddling the cats, practicing my own unique brand of magic in my life.
To the outside world, they may not be as visible as a flashy car and fancy holidays. To the outside world, it may well look like I have given up, or am not smart enough to get a fancier job. And sometimes I wonder if that is true.
Defining my legacy
But then I think of the Mary Oliver quote above – I hear that call to creative work – to exploring my subconscious through art, to offer tarot readings that are filled with wisdom and healing, to weave together the tarot and art and healing and magic. And I remember that I AM Creative; and if I am not creating, if I give it up in the pursuit of shiny things, then I dim and dull my own magic.
At the end of the day, choosing this life of creative inquiry, defining my own parameters of success, creating a life that is different from the one that is prescribed – isn’t that my legacy?
What do you think? Have you ever thought about the legacy that you’re living, and through that living, leaving behind?
If you enjoyed this post, you may enjoy my monthly letters – Gypsy Wanderings.
Shinjini, there’s something very beautiful and positive about your blog and writing. I normally read very fast but when it comes to your post, I actually read and pause to think. I used to be a banker. The pay was great and the lifestyle was flashy. I quit to pursue my passion for writing. I barely make any money because I don’t do paid promotions as a matter of principle. I had decided long back that anything that I earn from my new profession will be through writing only. At times, the financial status bothers me. At times, not getting enough views on my posts bother me. But I know I am at peace. There’s nothing that I would want to be than the profession I have finally chosen and the feeling of happiness outweighs everything.
See how much I love your post, I almost wrote an essay in reply.
Sonia, thank you!! I know we often read blog posts quickly and race off to the next blog. So it’s heartening to know that my posts make you pause and think. Thank you for sharing your story too. Switching from a high profile banking career to blogging, and being principled about how you will earn from your writing is a brave move indeed. Also one that is guided by the heart. I wish you luck and joy as you follow your love for writing. And I will remember your story whenever I get caught up in comparisonitis, which lucky is not too often! xx
I haven’t really thought about this question yet. At the moment I am living a simple life, taking care of my family and doing work that pays while also keeps me entertained.
That sounds lovely, Rachna!
Yes I often wonder what is my legacy? At the risk of sounding boastful, I was blessed with a sharp intellect and an ability to do anything with a fair level of proficiency – painting, singing, dancing , swimming, yoga. It seemed that I could do anything . Learning came easy to me and I was a topper in school and college . I had a knack with languages and even now after years of neglect can speak French. I am a good mimic too !
But I have let all my talent and creativity go to waste in the humdrum routine of caring for my family.
I could have left so much behind me but all I have to show for my body of work is unfulfilled creative juices that are slowly drying up.
You know, I really believe it’s never too late to begin again. If you can find even small chunks of time to do the things that matter to you, you can still build up a body of work to leave behind. Don’t let those creative juices dry up!! <3
Will try gypsy
I’ve no idea what my legacy would be. My MIL was a housewife— at her funeral, strangers came and wept—told us how kind she was to them. If I wanted a legacy, that would be the sort I’d want.
Ah! The legacy of kindness. I think you’re already building that. ?
Yes, that is your legacy. We all have different definitions of success. Following someone else’s definition can only bring discontent and frustration. And for a creative person, it’s even more tough. You are very passionate about art and tarot reading, and it can be felt in your writing and pictures. ?
That’s true – success should be defined and measured according to what each one of us wants. And yet, it’s so easy to lose sight of that sometimes and get caught up in social markers of success, even if they don’t resonate with you at all.
This is a question I keep asking myself too, Shinjini. Our situations are somewhat similar in as far as being childess and making choices not to pursue ‘success’ are concerned. I’ve been making attempts to connect with younger folk to mentor them and help them ‘find’ themselves and I hope that this can be my legacy.
I wish I had found you when I was younger and clueless and trying to find myself! I’m sure you’ll make a wonderful mentor to the young ‘uns <3
What a great quote. I question whether I am enough rather than what my legacy is TBH. I’m learning to celebrate the small successes. Writing is my creative outlet but I also love to sing. They keep me sane. #mixitup
Ah, that’s another thought that used to plague me. That feeling of not enoughness. It’s slowly moved to the background over the years, though, as I have realised that I don’t have to prove my “enoughness” to anyone; that I am enough just as I am. xx
I have asked this question and it stresses me out. I don’t feel I have any successes at the moment and I wonder what is there to leave behind?
Maybe start with figuring out what success means to you – not what society says. Success isn’t about money, a fancy job or a flashy car. What do you enjoy doing? Are you doing it regularly? Making that a part of your everyday life – making the time to follow your passions for the joy it brings you – that can also be your legacy. xx
Glad you talked about this topic. When I started blogging, I never cared who was reading my blog or not. I was blogging for my personal happiness However recently I realized I needed to grow it and that’s when started the whole number game. It’s stressful if truth be told.
Yes, the blogging for numbers game is stressful! Best to remember your why and to set your own success metrics so to speak.
As a legacy I woukd want to be remembered as a person who was always there for them..i am proud and shirt tempered but can be very kind and generous.
I left my well paid and highly lucrative job recently to follow my passion of writing. It definitely bothers me when a fixed amount is not credited in my account rveey month or ppl don’t comment on my blogs, but then I sit back and think, is this what I’m looking for in life? Getting bogged down does no good to me or my family. I get irritated and explode it on my kids. But that’s not fair. I analyse and introspect, and I realised I’m at peace, I’m happy and contented the way things are going
And that’s what it is all about! Knowing what’s important to you and what brings you peace and joy.
I recently read a book that put this very nicely. It said that humans are aware that death is inevitable and our physical self cannot be made permanent. So, humans often try to leave a mark of their inner self in the world, like wanting their name on a building, road etc. Italso said that it is this fear of death and not leaving their mark in the world that doesn’t really let us live fully. So I’m just happy to be alive and living my life how it is at every moment! 🙂
A mark of our inner self, in my humble opinion, comes from the body of work we create, not from our name on a road. 🙂
When I contemplate my legacy, I’m really not thinking of the mark I will leave after I die, as much as I am of the impact I am currently creating. How am I living my life? Am I following what brings me joy even if it is flying in the face of convention? These are the questions I contemplate sometimes.
Just like Rachna, I haven’t thought about it much. As for now, like you, looks like my work is going to be my legacy 🙂
But I want to be remembered for doing good.
Your post made me pause and think about the question that has never occurred to me. I am the kind of a person who lives a day at a time. I dont think much about future. As for legacy, its too big a word for me. I am just another minuscule life dot in the vast universe! I feel, if those around me are happy to have me around them, is more than sufficient. As it is, once when I will be gone from this world, will legacy really matter to me at that point of time? I think the answer for me is “no”.
Ah, but I’m really talking about the legacy we live – not the one we leave behind. There’s a slight difference between the two.
Children are a legacy people leave behind, but if you think about it, they’re also the legacy you’re creating – with the values you give them and the way you shape them. And that happens also, to a very large extent, from the way you lead your life. That’s a lived legacy – that’s the legacy that is interesting to me, the one that I’m contemplating. 🙂
I don’t worry about my “legacy” so much. I won’t be around to enjoy it. Each of us gets this one shot at creating a life worth living, and I think that’s the point – to find joy in life, whatever it throws our way. My children, maybe, are my “legacy.” But it’s on them to create their own lives worth living. Don’t worry so much about “legacy.” It will mean nothing to you when you’re dead. You will either be dead, or you’ll move on to something else – but you won’t be hovering around fretting over whether you WERE “enough.”
True, we won’t be around to enjoy our legacy. I think I may have phrased my question wrong. Oops!
For me, this line of questioning is simply about being aligned with my lived legacy. About making the time to do the things that have meaning to me, regardless of what society has to say about success and how lives “should” be lived.
I always feel a sense of peace and a vibe (that I can not explain, but I love) when I come to read something you have written. I can tell without knowing you that you have a beautiful soul. I think you should always follow what path calls you, because I believe you are wiser than you know and very intone with what will make you live the life you are destined too. Thank you so much for linking up #ABloggingGoodTime
Thank you so much – that…I’m speechless. I really wanted to create a peaceful, welcoming space online, and I’m so touched to know that it’s probably translating. <3
popping back to say you are this weeks featured blogger for #ABloggingGoodTime I loved this post
Thank you so much!! xx
I think about this with my writing. There has been a few things holding me back from fully pursuing writing as my chosen career path, like financial security. But then I have been on a journey for several years now figuring out what my path is and what I want to be remembered for. I also want to pursue my own happiness and that is writing. I love this post. This is giving me inspiration! #ABloggingGoodTime
Well, financial security is important too. Maybe the question is if you can find the time to weave in writing into your schedule and build up to making it your career path? That’s what I am doing with my art and tarot practice – I’m not sure if it will ever replace my day job, but it is a part of my work in the world. These are things I consciously make the time for. And that is nourishing me too. Hope you can figure out your path, love! xx