“Just as treasures are uncovered from the earth, so virtue appears from good deeds, and wisdom appears from a pure and peaceful mind. To walk safely through the maze of human life, one needs the light of wisdom and the guidance of virtue.” ~Buddha
As children, we were all fascinated by our own treasure hunts. We sought the gold at the end of the rainbow. We dreamed of sailing the seas looking for Treasure Island. We pretended to navigate ancient lands looking for the spot marked “X”.
Growing up in my family, my treasures were little feel-good events that made me smile. I longed for play time so I could climb trees and catch spiders. I looked for friends who could play with me all night long. I loved visiting our local bookshops to scour the shelves for books I’d enjoy.
As I grew older, I stopped seeking treasures. A life of routine and common dreams had descended on me. It was no longer seeking Treasure Island or the spot marked “X” but rather the acceptable haves of my generation. In my country it was known as the 5 Cs—cash, credit card, car, condominium, and country club membership.
When I started looking deeper, I asked, “Is that really all there is?” Was life all about acquiring things? It just didn’t feel meaningful.
I began to look for the real treasures in life, and started thinking about the kind of legacy I wanted to leave behind.
4 Treasures to Leave Behind
I have discovered that the real treasures in life have nothing to do with status and everything to do with leading fulfilling lives and sharing them with people. We can’t take anything with us, but we can leave these behind for our loved ones, both to remember us and to help and inspire them:
1. The books we read
The books we read shape our lives. They equip us with the wisdom and skills we need, and inspire dreams that set us on journeys of meaning and fulfillment.
We have the opportunity to leave behind books that enrich the mind and soul, teach others how to lead better lives, and inspire greatness from within.
One day, when our children and their children grow up, they will browse our library and learn what shaped us into the people we were.
Mark Twain wrote, “The man who doesn’t read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them.” Gain that advantage for yourself, and leave it behind for generations to come.
2. The pictures and videos we took
Pictures and videos evoke memories that lead us back into the recesses of joy, laughter, and even sadness. They remind us of years past when we were once young and vibrant.
In our modern age where physical photographs are becoming obsolete, pictures have not lost their value and importance. When we browse our photo archives on our iPads or notebooks, we are still filled with a sense of nostalgia.
Pictures and videos are treasures that bring history to the forefront. Take the time to immortalize the little things that make you happy, as well as your milestones and adventures. They’ll fill you with joy when you revisit them, and they’ll leave your children trails of their roots.
3. The journals we maintained
As you pass the various ages of your life did you bother to record your thoughts and dreams? Did you write down your best ideas to revisit at a later time? Did you create a blog to write down all your achievements? Did you carry a notebook to jot down thoughts that meant something to you?
Who are we but passengers in a life of experiences? But our experiences are invaluable because they are unique to each of us—and they provide wisdom for those who read our stories.
Start your own journals. It can be a simple notebook or even a blog. At every moment that is priceless to you, record what you’ve experienced. It will both help you find lessons and meaning in your life, and create a treasured archive for your loved ones after you are gone.
4. The legacy we created
Finally, what lessons did we teach through the lives we led? What philosophies of living did we engrave in the hearts of people who know us? What mission and values did we uphold in life? What can our children learn from us? Did we teach them well? Did we teach them about life? The legacy we create has lasting impact long after we are gone.
Amputee athlete and activist Terry Fox died at just 21, after attempting to run across Canada to raise money for cancer research. Thirty years after his death, The Terry Fox Run is still conducted around the world annually, in remembrance of his hope and vision. That run will endure and continue to inspire, in much the same way he did.
We may not all leave legacies of this magnitude, but we all have the ability to touch people’s lives in a way that will live on when we’re gone. Think about the legacy you want to leave behind—how you can share a message of goodness, hope, and inspiration.
The Treasure We Can Enjoy Right Now
If we go through life seeking only gold and silver, we miss the point. Life is about the experiences we have—and what we learn and teach as a result.
The true measure of success is about treasures of the heart. Start building them today and you’ll have them to share tomorrow.
Photo by Tommy Clicks