"We spend most of our lives working on our resumes, but once in a while maybe we need to think about working on our own eulogy. What do you want people to say about you when you die?"
-My history 101 professor
A week before I moved to South Carolina, I was inside the local Starbucks in my hometown, waiting for my drink at the end of the counter. From that angle in the store you can see through the drive-thru window and I overheard the barista at the window explain to the man that the girl ahead of him paid for his order. Without hesitation he took out his wallet and offered to pay for the person behind him... And then the line continued on the paying it forward. The thing that not everybody knew was that, the girl who paid for that man's drink was moving across the country at the end of that week. Now, that's not relevant to much of anyone in this story but it made me think a lot about legacy and what we leave behind when we leave a place.
It's hard to fathom leaving behind a mark that stays forever in a town that you've wanted to leave forever .. but the longer I thought about legacy, it made me realize that it starts with people.
My friend Taylor was the one behind the Starbucks pay it forward line that day, and maybe that won't linger on for anyone else who got coffee that day but being in a similar stage of life, it made me look back on the past four years in my ever growing small town.
I've been in Charleston over a year now, which is why it has taken me so long to get this post together. You see, when the idea of legacy came up I really had no idea what I wanted to say, just that it felt important to say something. It wasn't until I went for a job interview that I really got to sit down and think about what it was I wanted to leave behind, who I wanted to be remembered as.
There is something to be said about starting over in a new community of people, being able to offer them something different, something better. It has always been a strong belief of mine that all people are good at heart - I was once told to lower my standards about it. It may be naïve of me to think such a thing, but I've found that you see the world a little bit brighter when you focus on the good in every person you meet.
It was in an interview with my current boss that he asked what I could offer that maybe someone else couldn't. Maya Angelou said, "people will not remember what you said or what you did but they will always remember how you made them feel." I told him I want to leave people better than I found them. It's almost too simple if you think about it - to wish goodwill on someone - but if we all did it, to everyone we met, imagine how much better of a place this world would be.
It's been well over a year since that day in Starbucks, and that moment lingers on. But here, in this beautiful low country, on this small island... I've come to realize just what kind of legacy I want to leave.
& I hope, this inspires you to do the same.
Be the one who nurtures and builds. Be the one who has an understanding and a forgiving heart one who looks for the best in people. Leave people better than you found them. - Marvin J. Ashton