In recent years, I have heard a lot of this word. We hear of “legacy software”. Presidents are concerned about their legacy. Video games, movies, and comic books all use the word. This word has been overused and trivialized. It has almost lost its meaning and its impact.
One of Webster’s definitions is “something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past.”
In an attempt at humor, I have many times told people that I need ten lifetimes to accomplish everything I want to do in this life. Recently, I have been struck by the reality of this statement. I honestly do not have the time to do everything that I want to do before I die. Many of the things I want to create will take so long to develop that by the time it is manifest, my grandchildren may not be alive any longer. For some time, I was quite frustrated by this; however, as of late, I have found significant peace with this. In fact, I am a little excited about it.
Expanding Horizon View
You see, my horizon has shifted. It has expanded. I used to look at an end point of ten, twenty, or maybe forty years in the future. I would tally all the things I wanted to accomplish, then consider how much time I had left to complete these projects. If I considered where I was in life, I would feel a bit defeated. I had joined the military to pay for medical school, and I had a lot of time remained on my committment. My Permaculture awakening occured in bits and pieces over the last decade, but I was on a track I could not easily drive off. All the things I now wanted to accomplish, getting land, starting a farm, teaching Permaculture, raising my and my family’s food… it all had to wait until I was done with the military. I would consider a food forest and the trees planted within it. Many of the large nut trees may not even start producing nuts for twenty years, and some may take fifty years! I would never see the results of all my labor since I would be starting so late in the game.
I will readily admit that it has been very hard for me to wait to start something that I am so passionate about. It is part of the reason I created this website. But, as in everything, the problem is the solution! I have been given the unique opportunity to study Permaculture for over a decade without getting to implement it on a large scale. And I do mean study. I read and think and sketch and analyze and ponder and write about Permaculture every day. For over ten years. That is a lot of time to come to a deep understanding of a thing. I am well beyond ready to get my hands dirty, so to speak, but what an opportunity! I have been able to travel across multiple continents with this knowledge in my head, seeing how local and indigenous people farm and raise food and build homes and meet their daily needs. I have been confined to being an observer, and I have learned a lot.
I have also matured in my mindset of Permaculture. This is such a blessing. I have read of many people, who did what I wanted to do. They were infected with Permaculture and then ran with it. They got some land and starting planting trees and doing things. I am still jealous of that. However, I now know that many of these people look back and wish they had a deeper understanding before they jumped in. They would have planted those trees over there, but now they are 10 years old, and moving them is nigh impossible. They would have placed the pond up there, but they can’t move it now. They would have build the house down there, but that is not really possible now. I have been able to learn from their mistakes without making my own… yet. But I long to make my own mistakes, a lot of them, but hopefully not too large. Also, like most people, when I was first exposed to Permaculture, I thought it was just a unique way to garden. I thought it was all about food. And it is, but it is so much deeper than that. It involves communities, businesses, countries, regions, and the world as a whole. This is so exciting, but I never understood this or its practical implications early on.
An Exciting Future
Of course, I have no idea what the future holds. The government could take everything I build and install a highway. An asteroid may fall from the sky and destroy the Earth. I may have only a single grandchild who, out of desperation, sells everything for a few dollars. Who knows? Anything is possible. But I will still move forward with a multi-generational focus. I will plan for one possible future, start to implement it by creating tangible elements (swales, ponds, forests, structures, etc.), and then teach my children and grandchildren how to maintain it and mold it as they see fit. I know that my design is just a starting point and what will eventually unfold in fifty or one hundred years is going to be drastically different, but maybe not. Maybe the nut trees I plant will provide food to finish high quality hogs of a breed I developed. Maybe the ponds I build will provide fish dinners for my great grandchildren. Maybe the forest I plant will be a magical place to hunt mushroms for my great-great grandchildren.
Things have changed. My horizon is now fifty to one hundred years in the future, sometimes even a lot further. I see the future with new eyes. I now see that I am given a unique opportunity. I will be able to design a project that may last for hundreds or even thousands of years. I have the ability to lay the groundwork for something which will be benefiting people many generations in the future. In the more immediate future, my children and grandchildren will have something that truly meets their needs, and it may just provide many of their desires and wants. It will be something of real value, not just a pile of cash. It will be a true legacy.
I think of the possibilities that await for my descendants and their peers, all because of the work that I and people like me will do, I am so excited. Let us build the foundation so that our children may have peace.
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