Friday, March 27, 2009


At different points during my time in Amsterdam, I was struck by the fact that this city was older than America. (It helps when they put the year a building was made along its front).

Americans live in a really young nation, and the only things here that seem to have any age are the lands themselves. I've been thinking about my ancestors and how they would build a home to last for a few seasons before moving on, and how much of Europe seems to have been building for permanence. Part of the argument I suppose for the lasting nature of these buildings is the fact that resources were available to build for permanence.

And yet, in Modern America, we have similar resources, but I just don't feel like there is much that is being built to endure through the centuries. In my lifetime, I've watched whole communities and whole forests bull-dozed and destroyed.

I've watched people uproot themselves on a regular basis by living in a college town.

It just doesn't seem like we think much about endurance. We don't build things to last it seems. Very few of us consider leaving a legacy.

And yet, there's something in us that loves the idea of something very old being left intact. We love the idea of something that is built to last. And we love the idea of a legacy, but very few of us give any consideration to actually leaving one.

My old chief was different in that regard. I've been thinking about him a lot lately. Although it feels like my tribal community is fractured and splintered and largely disconnected, he instilled in us a legacy. Many of us still follow our old traditions, and we pour those traditions into others. Many of us tell stories of our chief, his faith, and his love for people. Many of us strive to follow in his footsteps. And when others see us doing that, they are seeing his legacy.

Our buildings, our homes, and many of our family heirlooms may not endure. But there are things that can and will endure, and they are the things that truly have lasting value, yet many will not recognize them at first sight.

As you walk through your day today, think about what areas of your life you want to endure. What is it that you want seven generations into the future to remember and reflect upon? What is it you want them to see and imitate? What will be your contribution that endures after you leave this life?

Just a little something I've been thinking about from my time across the water.


Frank Jenkins said...

I think that most people subscribe to the bumper sticker that they are spending their grandchildren's inheritance nowadays. Very few people think beyond themselves.

Willie said...

Heck, some punks even forget to call their best friends on their birthday.