Your legacy does not have to be a big deal. Few of us have a billion dollars or have made a huge difference for humanity. Some of us don’t have much time left on the planet and we know that.
What if your legacy are some small stories of simple kindness you have visited on others? Kind hearted mischief you are responsible for putting into play.
Examples: Paying for a soldiers meal. Plugging a parking meter. Pushing a car out of the snow. Giving a kid a toy. Taking a colleague out for lunch. Buying someones groceries. Telling someone you love them. These can be light hearted fun or very serious.
All of us have been flicked by the wing of the angel of death. Some of us have been tapped on the shoulder and we know will be dead in a year or two. That knowledge is a double edged sword. A long death lets us say goodbye in a good way, and for some time to make amends.
We all have parts of our character that we keep hidden, keep in shadow, and that is a good thing to do. It is a delight to see guys tap into that shadow and bring up interesting and sometimes strange ideas that have lain dormant for years. Tapping into shadow often shows up as being surprisingly kind to other people. We keep a lot of gold in shadow.
What are they going to be talking about at your funeral? I’ve been to a couple of very boring funerals in the last year. They were unpleasant surprises. The guys who died were both very energetic, passionate, powerful, lively, weird thinkers, boisterous, and downright fun to be around. If their funerals were the only thing I knew about them they would have been dried out, quiet, passive, boring, dusty thinking nice guys who drifted through flat gray lives unruffled by emotion.
Is someone is going to squeeze the life out of my story when I’m not able to speak for myself? They will if I let it happen. Well, designing your own funeral is a topic for another day.
Surprising acts of kindness is what I would want people talking about at my funeral. Some of the stories would be about kind hearted mischief perpetuated on unsuspecting people. Family, friends and strangers would be included on my list of targets. It would be good to have some stories about gentle practical jokes thrown in there too.
What would the repercussions be? Would my targets go out and do the same? Maybe there would be only a smile, maybe it would help someone out of despair, maybe someone will realize something cool about themselves and make considerate decisions about what they are doing. Maybe they’ll give a disgusted snort and continue with their grumpy lives. Imagining the funner results makes these acts very attractive.
These acts are a very high form of creativity and outgoing thinking. I know when I’m down in the dumps I only think about how miserable I am, no time for anyone else. That is a necessary thing to do for a while. When it’s time to pull out of that funk I find myself doing something for someone else. I could be mad or happy to be spending time with them. I don’t have much time for my pity party because my thoughts are elsewhere.
There is a lot of pleasure in thinking up practical jokes to pull. Few of them ever get set into motion, like a poo-poo cushion in church. The best part is fantasizing about how people are going to react. Some jokes are set up and we walk away, like hanging up a funny sign. The fun part is the anticipation.
The Reluctant Brotherhood website can be a repository of little stories, delightful surprises you have visited upon others. Considering simple acts like this is a neat way to get out of your own head and let brighter thoughts fill your time. Thinking this way will set the tone for spontaneous acts that may surprise you!
People can learn about those poor guys in The Reluctant Brotherhood and shake their heads sadly. What if they hear about those guys in The Reluctant Brotherhood and it brings a smile to their face? What if we are known as those guys with prostate cancer who bring kindness and pleasure to others?
I don’t think this would be therapy, but it’s a lot more fun than letting my inner whiner take up all the air time in my head.
We will be talking about this project on our Inner Conversations Call.
PS. Rob Barniskis of the Answer Cancer Foundation, and I came up with this idea on a phone call we had the other night.
PPS. Recommended reading is “Mischief Makers’ Manual” by Sir John Hargrave. You can get a copy for about $5.
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