The creation of objects—where the practical considerations of use is of crucial importance—is essential. Leaving a legacy with your life is vital. We all want to leave our mark on this world, to know that our life mattered. When you reach for your goals, you make critical decisions that determine how you will show up in the world each day. You build your future by leaving a path of sweet surrender for others to know you were here.
A little bird sat on my front porch this past week. I opened the front door slowly. He didn’t move. I stepped toward him. Still no movement. I kneeled beside him and touched his head with one finger. He waddled around, and I saw the problem. His left eye was swollen.
I jumped up and flew into action. I had a decorative bird cage in the garage, which I was sure would be a lovely home while I nursed him back to health. I grabbed last week’s newspaper and folded it until the size fit the bottom of the bird cage with just a little edge all the way around—to hold in any droppings. In my mind I was already wondering how to treat him and imagining I would use a Q-tip to apply the healing ointment prescribed by Google.
I went back out to the porch and my little birdie was still there. He needed me. I picked him up and headed toward the door to go inside. He wiggled against my caring grip. I didn’t want to hurt him, so I didn’t squeeze. He flew from my hands leaving a wake a little feathers behind and me standing speechless at that fleeting moment.
Many years ago, crayons and play dough kept my son’s toddler mind and fingers busy while learning. “Look what I made!” Those words always made me smile. The early school years kept the refrigerator covered with construction-paper art—flags and the letters of the alphabet shaped with pasta. It was a proud display for all to see.
As he grew, so did his art. Intricate pencil images decorated his bedroom walls. He dabbled in different mediums. He moved on to creating phenomenal videos for his high school. Always creating with his mind and his hands.
Fast forward. One year of college under his belt. He needed to do something more, something bigger. He decided to become a Marine. While waiting for the day he will get on that bus to go to boot camp, he has been working hard making beautiful things. He resurfaced and stained the back porch and deck. It was a lot of hard work. No project has been too big for him.
We decided it was time for that patio we always wanted, and he was eager to help. The design for the three different shapes of stone was created with his mind and his hands. A stone path leads from our house to the patio he built. In the middle of the path, the stones came together to make a butterfly shape. My husband and I will sit on the patio and watch the sun set.
It took several days of tilling, digging, shoveling, tamping, leveling, checking, spacing, and placing. It brought us all together, and forced us to communicate to complete this project. It took a lot of imagination, following instructions, and technical skill. It is a gift of art that will comfort us at the end of the day.
“Come over here,” he said to me late one evening as we put the finishing touches on our new oasis, which included a stone fire pit and nearby water feature.
“Just come here.”
I walked to where he was shoveling the last of the dirt mound into the back of the truck. The sun was setting, the air cooler. The grass already wet with dew tickled my toes.
“Look at it from right here.”
I looked at the whole project from his perspective. I saw the future. It was beautiful and full of more projects.
We finally leaned back in the Adirondack chairs exhausted from the week behind us. Butterflies flew around the butterfly bushes and a light breeze twirled a red, white, and blue pinwheel.
I remembered holding his hand when he was a little boy. He always pulled it away. So independent.
He will fly away from this place in about a month, but his life will leave a feathering of memories all around me. I may very well stand speechless at the fleeting moment when it happens.
He will move on to his next project that will be on a much larger canvas—transforming himself. Boot camp will be hard. He will grow and become stronger. He will learn new things. I expect to be impressed when he presents himself to the service of his country.
Each of us can make a difference in the lives of others. Even an ordinary life lived well and lived with grace will make the world a better place.
Everyone must leave something behind...a child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way...and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you're there. Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451
What project has life invited you to make a part of your legacy?