Capturing Your Life’s Messages
I wrote the screen adaptation of The Ultimate Gift, which shows a grandfather leaving behind legacy videos for his grandson. Each one is an assignment designed to teach him something, with the hope that this spoiled kid, Jason, will become a better person. A person who could then get outside of himself and help others in the world.
The grandfather, Red Stevens (played by James Garner in the film) knew he didn’t have enough time left to help this young man change while he was alive. So he recorded the videos in one day, knowing they’d be watched over time. It was time he personally didn’t have; he was dying.
During the writing process, as getting into the grandson’s head to write his journey, I was struck by how frustrated I felt in penning his dilemma. I’d feel a range of emotions, of a kid who was on such a big journey with a person he’d been at odds with, who wasn’t even alive anymore to confront, to talk to, to challenge, to ask questions.
Before you can think about what legacy you want to leave, remember the legacies of those that came before you. There's no better way to find out who you really are.
In many cultures, particularly indigenous ones, connecting with and honoring ancestors is a way of life. Think of the Navajo, who, before making any decision that affects their family or community, consult with the seven generations that came before them. Or consider Mexico’s Day of the Dead, when families welcome ancestors back into their homes and visit their loved ones’ graves. In both cases, although ancestors are no longer…
Fighting, resentment, jealousy, greed, entitlement, "He said — She said."
What causes these, or at the very least, inflames them? A lack of planning. It's alive and well for those who refuse to plan for their demise, or simply may not know how to plan. Since the beginning of time there has been a battle between the good and the bad and it will continue as long as humans are alive, but it doesn’t have to be this way. There are solutions for those who desire to leave a legacy of love instead of turbulence.