Monday, October 24, 2011

And when I die, and when I'm gone...

The title of this post sounds way darker ("dah-keh") than I intended, but I'm a slave to my "theme" (such as it is)...

There's this commercial that I'm sure most of you have seen where a Dad is using all sorts of web tools (Google, YouTube, Blogger, etc.) to document all these moments in his kids' lives, and it ends with him typing the line "I can't wait to show you these...", and it got me thinking.

What am I leaving behind for my daughter?

Not the obvious things -- money (hopefully), photos, our home, maybe a car, some personal possessions (jewelry, etc.) -- but things that are maybe more ephemeral, more intangible... like a better world, as much as I can. A legacy of trying to do the right thing. Of being a good person. Caring about the world I live in and my place in it, trying to make my corner of it a better place.

It's funny how these things seem "important" when you're young and single, but -- let's face it -- they're really not your primary focus. Or maybe not even secondary. You're young, just starting to figure out who you are and what kind of person you want to be, what kind of job or career you want, and how fast you can get there and how much fun you can have on the trip.

Of course, that all changes when you get "older." That word does not necessarily mean years, mind you; I know my fair share of 40+ year old men (and some women) still working out that "Who am I? What's my place? What are my goals?" stuff. And they have every right to take as much time as they need.

Because I sure did. I was 35 when I got married, and believe me (and I tell my wife all the time), I needed every one of those 35 years to get to a place where I was ready for my world to expand and become about more than just myself. Which is really what starting a family is about -- putting someone and something else first.

I was 37 when my daughter was born, and again that was right when I was ready. Being a husband is one of the hardest and best jobs I have ever had. Being a father is even harder and more rewarding -- which probably goes without saying.

That's why today, more than ever, I think about the world I live in and what my place is in it.

That's not to say that I have that licked, by the way. Every day I have the internal conversation about whether the time I have to spend away from my family to work is worth the sacrifice (i.e., the "Waah! I have to work to support my family but I'd rather be home with them!" feeling). What about the trips to the gym a few times a week? It's a balancing act.

So, yeah, what I do every day is a mix of trying to help my world and the world overall. Some days, I do it real good with one. Some days, it's the other. Very rarely, it's both. Often, it feel like neither. And it feels empty and not fulfilling.

But I wake up every day believing that day will be the one where I fill up both columns, a better world for my family and the world in general. And I keep waking up every day feeling that way; otherwise, why get out of bed?

That's what I am trying to leave behind. And that's what I want my daughter (and any future children) to know and remember. I tried every day to make the world a better place.

And that, to me, is the best legacy I can leave for my daughter. Because I'd want her to follow that more than anything else.

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