The Concept of Legacy
By: Rosemary McKenzie-Ferguson, Craig's Table
I ponder the concept of legacy:
Sleep is something that is a lot harder to achieve than I oft care to acknowledge. The pain I dance with every day makes it difficult to find that sweet spot where the body can rest and the mind can cease the endless chatter. It is one of those issues that never seems to ease. I am not alone in this. Countless others push themselves past civility to finally find/achieve sleep. Then the next challenge arrives to stay asleep for more than a short while.
Tonight really is no different in many ways, the talk back radio has been on in the background. It eases the empty hours to eavesdrop on the thoughts of others who I will not ever meet as they discuss parts of their lives with the host of the program not truly aware that total strangers are sharing the drama of their lives with them.
A short time back, a caller was discussing a person who after many years working within a sporting club has this week retired. The caller went on to tell the host of the achievements and the changes that have come into the club, then the caller said a word that had me come back to my computer to write this piece. The caller spoke of the legacy that has been put in place to be built on and to go forward from.
The context the caller was referring to via the use of the word legacy is “something that someone has achieved that continues to exist after they stop working.”
As I lay trying to be comfortable, I pondered what would others say about my work and then I pondered what my own legacy would actually look like in terms of what I have already done. There is a wall at Craig’s Table referred to as the Rosemary Wall. It has photos and framed memorabilia and awards. I tell those who ask about the various items that each one of the items is a starting point for the participants of Craig’s Table. They can stand in my footsteps and on my shoulders and go further and see further and be more, because they don’t need to go back to recreate any of it.
I spoke to one of the participants not that long back about each of the items. I shared the stories and the journey attached to each piece and for a short time, I could transport myself back to each of the times. The participant was amazed that despite a lot of challenges and even more self-doubt, I still stepped forward to push the boundaries and widen the path for others to find and follow.
I will not deny that for a short time all of it felt good. Not because someone else was impressed, but because the awards and certificates were all firsts for the injured worker community. I had picked up the challenges and carried the injured worker community with me and in doing so, the ripple effect had gone out into the far reaches of the community to touch others who will never know me or know how much I value each of them.
This week at Craig’s Table we had a visitor who had not seen how the Craig’s Table Bags of Love food program works. I walked her through the concept and explained how we register each person so that we know how many people are in each family and what dietary requirements need to be in place so that the food hampers match the need. I explained the pressure that each hamper lifts from the shoulders of each recipient and the challenges of putting food into boxes that the recipient families may not have tried before. We spoke about the idea of writing basic recipes and even small cooking lessons in the New Year.
And again: I felt the same level of pride knowing that all of it had come into being because of my work. Just knowing that tonight on dinner tables there was quality foods and as others curled up to sleep: they were not hungry from not having enough to eat nor were they hungry for not having others understand the situation that they are traveling through.
And so back to the word legacy and the Rosemary Wall. Mayhaps it is because it is the middle of the night, and mayhaps it is because I have been eavesdropping on other conversations and I can tell you because after all sometimes sharing thoughts and understandings with others really is important. The Rosemary Wall drives me as much if not more than it drives others.
I look at it and I see milestones of achievements. I see markers in time. I know the backstory of each piece. I know the self-doubt and the depth of courage I needed to grasp on to in order to bring all of it into being.
And then I am left with a gnawing knot in the base of my being, that gnawing away at what is next. Where to next? What more needs to be in place? what barrier(s) need to be recognised and removed? What are my own goals and what are the goals for the injured worker community?
I read white papers and research papers and I read reviews and recommendations. All of it comes from the industry side of the workers compensation equation. I watch TED Talks that speak about fragility and strength and post traumatic growth. I listen to podcasts about rising over adversity and I watch short clips on medical issues that spring from trauma. I speak with members of the injured worker population as they share their journey(s) with me. I hear the brokenness within each of them. Within it all there is something that reaches into the very essence of me regardless of how tired I am or what part of the pain dance I am at. It reaches in and pulls me forward. It calls me out the unknown the unseen the un-understood. It shows me the fleeting peripheral glimpse of the legacy that in all honesty I will never see or understand for myself.
So once more, if I may be so bold, maybe my legacy is to build the base so strong that it won’t matter how many others follow my footsteps or stand on my (broken) shoulders. They will know that the ground under them is safe and the path is free and wide for them to walk. If nothing else, that has to be a good thing.
Now ‘tis time that I attempt once more to sleep.
Yours in service
January 5th 2019