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All that you can leave behind
Thoughts on wilfulness, walking the Garden of the Gods
I had the fortune to visit Colorado Springs last week as I start a new chapter in my career. During the busy week I drove early one morning to the Garden of the Gods, a popular tourist stop with fascinating rock formations.
It’s ranked as one of the top city parks in North America, rivalling, according to some, New York’s Central and Vancouver’s Stanley.
To my delight it was mostly empty. I walked among the rock formations and marvelled at their shapes in quiet as the sun climbed to take residence for the day in the sky.
My cellphone photos don’t do the park justice, so if you’re ever in the area, pop over to take a look for yourself.
Perhaps like me, you’ll be stopped in your tracks by the inscription on one of the rock faces as you enter the paths.
The Garden of the Gods
the City of Colorado Springs
by the Children of
Charles Elliott Perkins
In fulfilment of His Wish
That It Be Kept Forever
Free to the Public
What a powerful thing, the act of bequeathing.
I was so moved to read the inscription as I contemplate what it means. A railroad mogul had a vision to protect the land and ensure generations to follow could experience its magnificence.
I know nothing else of the man or his children. But I experienced first-hand, more than 100 years later, the outworking of his wilfulness and benefited from one of his choices.
I was deeply touched to be one among millions who inherited from Perkins something beautiful because he so willed it.
What will I leave for others? What will you?
An inheritance portfolio
We consciously honour, even revere, acts of wilfulness in death. What someone chooses to leave others with when they’re gone—final wills and testaments—seem permanent and incontrovertible.
But must we wait until we die?
Did people take the decisions Charles Elliott Perkins made when he willed among the living as seriously as those choices he sealed in death?
These were surprising, meaningful questions to consider on a morning when I was just trying to be a tourist, just trying to go for a walk.
I long to leave a dynamic inheritance to my children and their children—spiritual and temporal riches like faith, character, finances, property, stories, deep relationships, a good name.
As I stood among those formations, underneath that inscription on the rock face, I couldn’t help but also ponder what I will bequeath while I’m alive. How, as I live and breathe, I construct and nurture a portfolio of choices that I will pass along.
I’m startled anew at the power and significance of our own wilfulness. How we leave, hand down, assign, commit, cede, entrust and grant to others things every day.
What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the [gods] and crowned him with glory and honour.
~ Psalm 8
Here’s to emphatic, purposeful, even surprising choices.