What’s Your Legacy?

Hiking Trail, Indiana
 2023 – “Today we are all gathered here to celebrate the life of Mark. Mark was a great man, known best for his hard work and dedication to his career. While, all to soon, it brings us all comfort to know that Mark died that day, at his desk doing what he loved to do, making money for his family, his company, and the stockholders. His passion for his work defines his character as a man…”

As a kid, I was bitten by the wanderlust bug. I felt comfortable camping, hiking, and exploring the woods. I enjoyed being outside, with my feet in a stream, the smell of a campfire in the air, and hearing the sounds of nature, I felt at home. But as I kid, I didn’t know how much I loved it. I took it for granted, until now, as I reflect on my childhood. Growing up in the suburban sprawl of the 70’s, nature soon gave way to subdivisions, big homes, manicured lawns, as fields, streams, and woods to explore became a distant memory.

“…Mark will be remembered as a dedicated employee and leader. His drive and desire were to lead the company that he worked for, to rise to the top and become an industry leader. He spent many nights and weekends sharpening his business skills and putting forth every effort into advancing his career…”

Concrete was now paving the paths to my future. Ahead, there was prosperity, opportunity, success, corporate dreams, and professional & social status. My free time soon became organized time. Organized time became structured time, and my dreams stealthily changed from adventure, exploring and loving life to simply planning, climbing the corporate ladder, and to living the daily motions of life.

“…As the industry changed, and challenges arose, Mark was the first one to dig in and work even harder to do whatever it took to meet the goals and objectives of the company. Even as the bar was raised higher and higher, there was not a challenge or sacrifice that Mark wasn’t willing to make for the good of the company…”

After 23 years of dedication to my corporate job, I was fired. I had risen to the top, managing the operations of the company. The reason they gave me was, they “wanted to go in a different direction”, a direction that didn’t include me. That’s what dedication got me. The obsessive hard worker, which earned me the nickname “Miles”, referencing the TV show character from Murphy Brown, didn’t have me out of work for very long. I took a job with a family owned business, which prided its success on a solid balance of career and family values. For the first time in 23 years, I started to experience, once again, what I left behind as a kid. I began to enjoy the outdoors, freedom, nature and aspired to rediscover myself, to find my purpose, and love life again.
“…Mark will truly be missed by his friends, family, co-workers, and customers who were like family to him. He took care of his family well and provided them with the material things that they needed to be happy and successful. He also provided his kids with wisdom, teaching them about hard work, dedication, and gave them a solid foundation to which they could achieve corporate and financial success…”
Not long after starting my new job, the company was sold to a major international corporation. The culture went from collaborative, fun, and empowering to one ran by stockholders and accountants, where employees names, faces, and lives became just a number on a spreadsheet. Every decision was now made in the interest of the shareholder’s returns, and not in the interest of the people who dedicated their lives to the company, or even the customers. A few years later, I got sick. The stress to live up to the unreasonable expectations had finally brought me to my knees. The desire for wanderlust, love, freedom, life and spiritual awakening has never been greater.  While I’m now lost, the awakening is alive, and I am beginning to Be_again.
“…As we lay his body to rest today, his tombstone captures his legacy to remember him by forever; “Here lies Mark. He was a hard worker.”   
Three Lakes Trail, Morgan Monroe – IN, April 2018

 

2 Comments

  1. Amazing piece of writing Mark. We all have this thread in us, this clench to what we are “supposed” to do or amount to in life….. well, inspired in part by your great post today I rededicate to sounding a a resounding “Fuck That”. Rock on Mark!

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s