Life Advice

/

Health

Millennial Life: The Wrinkles of Legacy

Cassie McClure on

A long time ago, a colleague from several jobs ago took a leap in vulnerability over lunch. She explained that she noticed a shift between her interactions with people when she was younger and now, as an older woman. She spoke about an invisibility that settles over women as they age, as conventional beauty fades.

"I felt that people listened to me more when I was younger," she said.

I remember thinking then, maybe 10 years ago, how nice it might be to walk through the world less seen. (I'm telling you: I'm an introvert in general.) Nonetheless, her perceived and likely actual power loss stuck with me.

As I'm about to head into the decade that was my dad's last -- he was a couple of months shy of 50 when he died -- I can't help but think about aging and what role it plays in my life.

A few weeks back, on a Zoom call, I noticed the wrinkles around my eyes when I laughed. Having online conversations while sitting with an awkward mirror of yourself makes it hard not to try to include that person you know is you, but also not. Unless you are an actor, it's unlikely you're that familiar with your own mannerisms. It's a bit self-serving to say this, but I had kind thoughts about the "me" I saw on the screen. She was older, but the wrinkles expanded the joy in her face, a face worn with time I've been lucky enough to have here -- a tangible legacy of the laughter I've had and the grimaces I've given.

I've been working on legacies with constituents lately, final attempts to harness the potency of their voice and grappling with whether all their experiences can finally be translated into wisdom. Again, I feel lucky to be the one who is offered some of their efforts.

One gentleman shared his hope for a business cooperative enabling people to build mutual aid. Another wanted to create a way for residents to connect to their Indigenous roots and allow for intergenerational and intercommunity healing. Others support our connections with animals, and others ring out warnings against the systems we've built. What I've lamented is not their lack of drive, but that it didn't come sooner.

 

They tried for change only toward the end of their lives when the desire to transcend the limitations of mortality became a ghost pounding at the door of their hearts. Their efforts are also a model for living your legacy as you go, how it shouldn't be something to strive for at the end of your life, and how it will look different for every person.

For some, legacy takes the form of tangible achievements -- a successful career, a loving family, or a contribution to society. For others, it is more intangible -- a legacy of kindness, wisdom, or compassion. Whatever form it may take, the desire to leave a lasting imprint on the world is a universal human longing that transcends age. I'm learning that from the voices of the older generations and those no longer here, like my father.

To riff off the poet Atticus, I hope to arrive to my death late, in love, but soberly aware that I used my voice to leave a mark as I went along and that, hopefully, the ghosts will sit next to me instead of pounding on my door.

========

Cassie McClure is a writer, millennial, and unapologetic fan of the Oxford comma. She can be contacted at cassie@mcclurepublications.com. To find out more about Cassie McClure and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.


Copyright 2024 Creators Syndicate Inc.

 

 

Comics

Steve Breen Kevin Siers Meaning of Lila Phil Hands Pat Bagley The Lockhorns