Beverly and I were talking last Friday about legacy, something that’s important to both of us and probably to everyone. Merriam Webster defines legacy as
something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past
It’s definition suggests that it has a short time span, so we think of the legacy we can see. We tend to view legacy as BIG, like what the Gates Foundation will do and how UNICEF impacts the world and the important leaders who come out of Harvard and Oxford and the Sorbonne. My most recent duh discovery is that legacy is like the butterfly’s wing. You can’t tell to what degree your small actions in your short lifetime will change the world. You can’t tell IF they will have a legacy; legacy for most of us rarely happens in the span of a human life.
I’ve been thinking about holding as a concept and what that means based on what I do daily. Holding is that process of protecting something that is sacred or special to someone, allowing it to emerge and develop and founder and fall and rise again. It’s like the arms of a mother around a newborn, the total sense of safety and acceptance. Holding is critical to legacy. It’s the thing that allows our best becoming. It’s the place where risk is possible and no failure is permanent.
The Eye of the Dog Art Center is a place of holding. It’s not the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art but it might be the first stop on the path.
And then I thought about the work that I’m doing. I’m now writing curriculum to teach young people how to coach groups. And part of that curriculum includes teaching the group members how to peer coach. I am working hard to get it right. If I do, I began to dream about a legacy, where several countries in Africa develop and preserve these advanced communication techniques derived from coaching. I think about how different conversations would sound. I really like that idea as a legacy. And I think about how to help people create places of holding. See? Butterfly wings.