A blog post by Nick Fanshaw, Year 5 Teacher, St Paul’s Chipperfield

What would your legacy be?

Could this crisis offer a unique opportunity to consider how we truly wish to be remembered?

As these turbulent times play out, a shadow from within rears itself to question us; to question our purpose; to question our morality.  If today were your last day – if now was all that you held within your hand… would you be satisfied with who and what you were?  And who and what you’d become?  Would you feel you’d left enough on this blank canvas we all arrived on – so someone else could admire your metaphorical painting in fifty, a hundred or even five hundred years to come?

We are all ants in this labyrinth of life; we are all numbers and statistics.  By nature we like order and clarity – numbers are just that.  Yet I pose the question: are you a prime number, a number below ten or are you four hundred and seventy four thousand, eight hundred and twenty one?  A number you’ve just read but as this line reaches its climax – a number you will not be able to recount.  Herein lies my issue with the society we have become.  We should now feel embarrassed about two things.  Keeping up with the Joneses and taking for granted the pure simplicity in which life should be loved and appreciated.  Like Mary Schmich states in her commencement speech (made famous in Baz Luhrmann’s song), ‘The race is long, and in the end, only with yourself!’

The journey you take is about those moments on the way.  Those moments enable me to forge a legacy in prose and pictures.  I savour those times – the simplicity of what flows in writing and the inspiration that leaves its imprint on me.  A summer breeze or the notes through my headphones on a dark, quiet evening.  That makes me – me!  When you can saviour the freebies of life – then you’re well on the road to fulfilment – well on your way to understanding what your legacy is.

We’ve never had such a sustained period of time for self-reflection. Never have we had to deal with this much introspection because life has become too busy.  Who are you?  What are you about?  What would you say your legacy will be?  I am not immune to soul-searching but I haven’t had to search too far.  It’s given me this transparency – it’s almost cleansing. I feel refreshed and know that, no matter what the next year brings, what I leave behind in the end – whenever the end is – is something that I stood for and something I was proud of.  That’s not to say I’m not worried about my family, friends and children I teach – I really am – but don’t feel guilty at this moment to take stock of you.  I hope this time shapes people, makes people kinder, makes people appreciate life’s minimalism, makes people learn more about what they want from life and how they want to be remembered in years to come.  I hope it also makes everyone do those things they’ve always wanted to do but never tried.  As bleak as times are – there are positives to be gained from this isolation – the self-reflection and questioning could be exactly what you need to prosper in the future.

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