What is a Legacy Story?
“But, what of galaxies, and stars, the biosphere and atoms. . . . For story is all there is. The universe is made of stories, not of atoms."
--Cosmologist and Poet, Muriel Rukeyser—
Dinosaurs in the Cornfield is a legacy story. A legacy story is a true story in which we play a central part. The core events that the story seeks to preserve occur in our childhood, but we soon forget them. Those stories begin to reemerge as we reach adulthood. They remind us of our heritage and become our legacy stories. Our legacy stories teach us three things. First, that we are not alone but part of a family. We possess a belonging deeper than we knew and larger than ourselves. Second, the stories explain, in part, how we became who we are, and third, they instill values in us that may determine what we will become as we make decisions that shape our future. A legacy story connects our past to our future and transmits insight and character across the generations.
A half-century ago the stories in Dinosaurs in the Cornfield were planted in my heart like seed. Through the years that seed put down deep roots in my soul, and I have relived these stories over and over again. They stabilize me in stressful moments of self-doubt. They remind me of where I came from, of who I am, and of what I may become.
Grandpa Lēgiē didn’t leave me an inheritance. He never sent a birthday card, never gave a Christmas present. He didn’t attend my graduation ceremony. He didn’t come to my wedding. He never sent congratulations to my wife and me the day she bore him his first great grandson. But he left me the greatest legacy anyone could ever receive. He left me legacy stories from my childhood.
As readers listen to my story, they may remember a mentor, perhaps a grandparent, or some other, who passed positive values along to them. The wisdom gained from their experience is then passed along to their offspring as legacy story. Rachel Freed writing in the Huffington Post www.huffingtonpost.com/rachael-freed/117-legacy-linking-the-pa_b_9421144.html says that we are more successful passing along values to the next generation when we do so by telling stories than by lectures or lists of instructions.
What About our Traumatic Memories of Childhood? We don’t live in a perfect world; far from it. Many have endured traumatic childhoods, and would rather not remember what once was. They have received a negative legacy. However, a retelling of our childhood stories, adding adult perception to them, may allow forgiveness to spring forth and bloom.
The poet says, “we are made of stories” and legacy stories are the stories that make us who we are. For more information see www.legacyproject.com