This illustration was inspired by Mother Teresa. My father-in-law recently celebrated his retirement. As a professor, educator, academic administrator, and advocate over many years, he's impacted many lives and legacy remains top of mind as he transitions into a different kind of work.
In many respects, I think to able to make meaning in one's professional career is a rare gift. I think about the vast majority of people in the world who work to survive, to support others, to afford their desires, to meet some expectation -- so many reasons not directed by love and calling. And it's nothing to be ashamed of. There's no pity in that, because one's legacy is rarely to do great things. Great, heroic acts remembered through the ages are not always possible, and I might even argue that they are often a matter of circumstance, more simplified and tinged with romanticism.
One's legacy is grounded in the way the person directs his thoughts, make decisions, and treats those he meets every day. And all of these "little things" can be done, as Mother Teresa says, with great love. It brings to mind a story of a monk who was invited to speak before a high school class. The first thing he did was write on the board, "Everyone wants to save the world, but no one wants to help do the dishes." I ask myself then, "Can I do the dishes? Can I do it with great love?"