Leaving a Legacy

Accused of sexual misconduct..harassment…assault…rape… As more and more stars are exposed this week, careers are vanishing. I applaud the public’s at-long-last sensitivity to what clearly is pervasive abuse, but I also am terribly sad. After years of creating a solid, respectable and admirable body of work, it’s amazing how ones’ reputation — one’s legacy — ultimately can boil down to nothing good. What a tragic shame.

And what about the victims? Does the whistle-blowing rewrite any scripts? Make the abused feel less ashamed, guilty or vulnerable? No, it doesn’t. No one really wins this battle. But maybe we can start with a clean slate and write new stories about good-winning-over-evil characters who have integrity.

* * *

This week, four people whom I deeply care about celebrated milestone birthdays. One turned fifty; one sixty; one seventy; and one…ninety-eight. (After ninety, every single birthday is a milestone in and of itself!!!) They each celebrated and received numerous acknowledgements from friends and family from around the world. (Even my grandmother, who isn’t on Facebook, received dozens on online congratulations in honor of her ninety-eighth.)

As I reflected on my relationships with them, I was struck by the ways in which each has helped me become a better version of myself. Collectively, they encourage me to be better educated, braver, bolder, more understanding, more inquisitive, more tolerant, more loving, more appreciative, and more grateful. Their paths and stories were not without challenges, sorrows, and disappointments; yet their perseverance and endurance have been rewarding…and worthy of emulating.

Even more importantly, each has contributed — in different ways — to building a better the future. Through their efforts, colleagues, children, students, family, and people they’ll never meet will reap the fruits of their endeavors.

And so, to these true mentches, I will raise a glass (of coffee at this particular moment) and toast. May they all kick off a happy and healthy year, and new decade of promise. Their accomplishments and mere existence have mattered…to me and to so many. Because of them, I’ve embraced change and new possibilities. And even if there are fewer years ahead of them than behind, I love and thank them for the wonderful legacies they will leave for generations to come.

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