I had a glimpse of legacy last week. It came unexpectedly. We were on a road trip as a family, and my daughter grabbed my phone 10 minutes before we left and put together a playlist for the car. For the sake of family unity and a quiet life, I agreed to let her play the tracks for the whole journey.
A risky move.
You see, a few years ago I realised I had failed as a parent when my daughter compared One Direction to the Beatles, it was a dark day. To redeem my shocking parenting I embarked on a musical odyssey with my kids which looked a lot like me forcing them to listen to a raft of music that was written before even I was born. We started with Elvis and Chuck Berry, moving into Motown, the Beatles, the Stones and right through the classic bands of the 60’s through to the noughties. We did Queen, Abba, Bob Marley, Janis Joplin, Bruce Springsteen and everyone else I could think of.
A few tracks into the journey I couldn’t stop myself smiling at the music echoing around the car. You see, I didn’t realise it, but I was creating a legacy of music in my kids. It hit home on that car journey when, on my teenage daughter’s playlist, I heard music that I had played her being played back to me. Even more remarkable was the music I hadn’t heard of before but I loved. She had gone beyond the music I had given her in her own journey of discovery.
Legacy seems to be a buzz word at the moment. Leaving a legacy for the next generation, handing over the baton, building a platform for others to stand on etc. It all sounds great, but in my experience, it’s something that we seem to be pretty terrible at. I’m not sure what it is in the human condition, pride, ego, jealousy perhaps that stops us getting out of the way and letting the next generation come through.
Maybe that’s it. Getting out of the way. There seems to be an unspoken rule that we’ll let the next generation rise up as long as they do everything exactly the way we did it. The sounds has to be the same, the language the same, all exactly how we like. If not we use phrases like ‘they were released too early’ or ‘they’ve gone astray’. Those statements sound intelligent but are really just a disguise for our desire to control.
True legacy isn’t about making clones, cooking cutter creations that will do everything we want. It’s about raising children that carry our DNA but express their beautiful creativity in the way they desire. It’s about releasing the next generation to blaze a trail into new arenas and new discoveries. It’s about letting go. Truly letting go and releasing a generation into the freedom they crave and deserve. That’s legacy.