Thoughts On my Legacy

By Will Baker

 

I recently enjoyed the experience of reading some thoughts penned by a friend concerning her relationship with her father. It seems that he passed away suddenly, not too long ago, and the event, not surprisingly, stirred up quite a bit of emotions within her. As I read her words I could not help but identify with the situation. You see I am a father also, to a bright and beautiful little girl. And as I read my friend’s words, I thought of my daughter, who was napping in the other room, and wondered about the thoughts that she might have someday, regarding me.

For me, the act of imagining the future is sometimes a difficult proposition. I think that this is mostly because I have my hands full trying to make the most out of the present. Sure I have a pretty good idea of what I want my future to be, however I’ve long since realized that a preoccupation with the future diminishes my present. And it seems to me that, except for memories, the present is all we really have. And besides, the future will get here soon enough. I am also quite aware that in this wide and jumbled world anything can, and quite frequently does happen. I wish my daughter a long and happy life, but as far as my ability to actually make that happen, she could die before I do. And as much as that would crush me, it would be my reality.

I have another dear friend that is full of hope for the future. He is highly educated, and has a wealth of personal experience to draw upon. While I would argue that, as a society we have lost our way, he feels just as strongly that "never in the history of mankind has there been such cause for optimism." And his argument is a compelling one. Yet I can not help but be haunted by the faces of my fellow commuters as I drive to my office each day. For the most part I see a procession of lost souls staring blankly. And on some of these faces there is a faint trace of fear, or maybe longing.

So not only was I wondering what my daughter’s memories of me might be, I was thinking about her future world. Although I do strongly feel we have lost our way, I am optimistic about the future. I think we can and will find our way to where we need to be. I can only hope that this movement will occur in her lifetime. Please note that I did not say find our way back to where we need to be. There is no going back, even if there was something of enduring value for us there, which I believe there is not.

I continued to sit and think, while the shadows lengthened on the wall next to my desk. It was late afternoon when she toddled out of her room, wiping the sleep from her eyes. She didn’t say a word. She just walked over to me and climbed into my lap and gave me a big hug. No, I won’t worry about the future when a moment like this is in my present. And as for what she might think of me: if she can recall one moment like this one, I’ll be happy.

 

(Essay Collection)