We recently covered the Who of Legacy Tools as a thinly disguised U for Users. There are more Ws in the Legacy tool kit. The classic 5 Ws of inquiry also include what, when, where, and why, in addition to the who.
My Story, Told By Others
No matter what, legacy is largely a story told by others. The who of legacy is many.
As I said in the earlier article,
If you are truly living life to the fullest and taking advantage of every opportunity that comes your way, you will not have time record your escapades. And that may be okay if you truly do not care about any other person’s reality after you are gone. Do what you can to maximize or exemplify what you care about. Or you may just want to tell amazing stories to your kids, grand kids, or younger people you care about through the grand tradition of oral history. Tell lots of stories. Let others remember, or retell, them – if they are so moved.
The who of the past is manifold.
Genetics and genealogy provide the packing material for all the “who” about whom you research and tell stories when you do family or community history. That is the first whom.
The second whom is you in the here and now. Others may have imagined you in the past. That is why they recorded their histories in the family Bible or other registry. And you are the stuff of future genetics and genealogies.
Third you is the you that others will imagine when, at some time in the future, your name, something you have written or recorded, or the legend that surrounds your spot in history is invoked.
Who was or will be cannot really be known.
What is legacy? You can shape the what of your legacy by determining if you are leaving things such as pictures, furniture, art, books, and the life, or if you are leaving stories. Or perhaps the what of your legacy is found in full tummies of grandchildren that are filled with cookies from your recipe collection. That sense of well-being, or love, may be all you really want or need to create.
When will your information be used? In twenty years? In 200 years?
When will your book, recording, or video be considered? In 25 years will it be Grandma’s Book ? Or in 100 years will it be a chapter compiled at some future point into Early Understanding of the Coming World Shift by an Early 21st Century Women?
Are people talking about your information at a country tea party? Does a library house your tome? Is it in a personal library of a descendant? These are questions that, if answered, may shape the format, media, and presentation of your information.
“Why?” is question that cannot be answered for anyone but yourself. Of course you may note why you are doing what you are doing in the thing that you are creating. This will be one of many motivations ascribed to your legacy-making. Why did she do that? Those who answer will see motivations for your actions that you may not see. They may be present in you or not. All you can do is leave enough context for informed inferences to be made.