Leaving A Legacy

Leaving A Legacy

“Ever visited Calicut?” Lulu, my parrot asked as he came in from the window and settled on my study table. “I just visited Calicut and had been to the place where Vasco da Gama had landed.”

“From Portugal to Calicut. It must have been a long, seemingly endless journey” I said as I opened the world map to see the long route he travelled.

“True. But that is not what I was thinking about. Don’t you think that Vasco da Gama’s voyage is nothing but our journey to self-discovery?”

“Vasco da Gama’s voyage is nothing but our journey to self-discovery! Never thought like that. You are using the metaphor of Discovery of India for self-discovery? Quite a leap of imagination, Lulu!”

(Lulu, My Parrot)

“Vasco da Gama sets sail for India, he does not know the route, but travels along the coast of Africa, turns around at Cape of Good Hope where he must have run in rough seas. Isn’t that akin to the life you are experiencing where you seek to realize your potential?”


“You seek to realize your potential, but you do not know how to go about it, yet move from experience to experience, reflecting and learning and then you run in the rough weather of dilemmas. Isn’t that how you discover yourself?”

“Interesting, Lulu”

“Then your life takes a turn as you meet a mentor or Guru who tells you the route to Self-discovery. The monsoon winds helped Vasco to travel fast from African coast to Calicut, and guidance by merchants in Africa put him on the accelerated path. By the way, Vasco’s ships took a sharp turn to North-East at ‘Cape of Good Hope.’ The name befits this metaphorical story so well.”

“Ha, ha! Yes, indeed!! Vasco had to scuttle one of his vessels as he negotiated Cape of Good Hope. Life’s crucible moments are full of dilemmas and they force us to jettison some of the baggage too.”

“And the baggage is ‘one half filled with what was, the other with what is, what should be’ as Jamie Hughes said.”

“This is a solid dose of philosophy, Lulu. The problem is that we set sail for the journey of self-discovery, but we get lost.”

“Parents insist that the child must focus on ‘inputs.’ They insist that the child must read, must study well. They think that is the foundation of self-discovery in future.”

“Isn’t that necessary at that stage of life? Young students must focus on learning. What’s wrong with that?”

“The problem is that they often discourage expression. Parents do not want children to paint, write stories, draw pictures. They want children to study! Overemphasis on study means discouraging self-expression in our Society today.”

“Hmmmm …..”

“Why is it that you see several grown-up persons not undertaking any act of self-expression? Self-expression hastens self-discovery, right?”

“That’s true …. Perhaps they want to excel in the first attempt, not realizing that it takes some practice to become a good writer, speaker, trainer, teacher, painter, actor or anything which requires expressing”

“Or perhaps they are afraid of being seen as a ‘learner’ at their stage of life. They probably have some accomplishment to their credit, and wish to protect their image!”

“Fear of ridicule is like a shackle”

“But just as you must be a ‘learner’ in the first half phase of your life, you should be a ‘giver’ in the second half”

“That’s an interesting perspective”

“Your journey must be from being a Learner to being someone who is ‘Leaving a legacy’. The second phase requires expression. Simply focusing on inputs in the second half of your life will mean you are not paying adequate attention to ‘Leaving a legacy’”

“Hmmm …. Are you saying that life should be seen as a journey from Learning to Leaving a Legacy?”


“Who cares for your legacy when you are gone from this world, Lulu?”

“I do not mean leaving behind inheritance of property. I mean that leaving a legacy is telling the next generation how to find meaning in life and how to discover ‘lasting or enduring success.’

“From being a learner to being someone who leaves a legacy! That’s interesting. Aristotle says that we learn our moral values from people we hold in high regard. Didn’t we learn from our teachers, parents, and yes, grandparents?”

“True! You learnt your moral values from your parents. Similarly, the next generation will take their bearing for life’s journey from you.”

“Is that why you should express yourself in some way? Will that help us leave a legacy?”

“Yes. You may not focus on leaving a legacy, but the next generation will learn from the way you share your thoughts, feelings and the rationale for your actions”

“Got it. What happens if you do not care to leave a legacy?”

“Your question reminds me what George Bernard Shaw said, “I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no ‘brief candle’ to me. It is sort of a splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.” Do you get me?”

That set me thinking. Lulu pushed my pen toward me. “Express yourself. Whichever way you like. Insights will flow. And then express those too!”

We gave each other a knowing smile. Lulu ‘reads’ my agreement with him even if I do not say a word!

Vivek S Patwardhan

All photographs copyrighted

“What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.” / Read more Lulu blogs in my book ‘The Lulu Duologues’