09/09/2014 01:18 pm ET Updated Nov 09, 2014

Whether You Leave Your Mark or Not Is Not the Question...

We all desire to have others witness our lives.
We want to know that who we are matters.
There is something sacred that lies deep
within us that seeks to connect us to our
oneness with others and with eternity...

On a trip to England I had the opportunity to visit the ancient landmark known as Stonehenge. The small group I was with was blessed to have a one-hour private viewing of this historical site. I was invited to share a mindfulness practice honoring the moment at hand so I suggested that we stand in the center of the circle of stones and enter into the silence, allowing the energy of Stonehenge to wrap itself around us. While standing in silence, I began to contemplate the meaning of the site and the intent of the people who, 3,000 years ago, built and left this amazing monumental puzzle for future generations to solve. What were they trying to tell us? My intention was to be a student in the presence of the ancients and garner whatever lessons these stones would reveal to me. However, as it turned out, what I learned was quite different from what I had expected; it had more to do with the 150 generations of people who have come and gone since its beginning than with the people who actually built Stonehenge.

Mindfully selecting one of the large stones, I would pause and stand before it and consider the countless people who, over three millennia, stood in that very same spot. Who were they? What were they thinking? What kind of life were they living? It was then that I began to notice there were various names and dates etched in several stones. At first I rushed to judgement and was a bit disturbed that others would deface such a significant historical monument. Then I noticed that the carvings dated back many centuries and I had an instant flash back to a time when, as a kid, I carved my initials and the date in my granddad's old maple tree that had been on the farm for four generations. This was not a form of marking intended to deface the tree, it was a ritual of remembering my roots; adding my initials next to his initials and his father before him made me feel part of something larger than myself; a family that would extend far beyond my years. In much the same way I imagine that whoever "left his mark" in the stone wasn't trying to deface it, he was affirming that he knew he was one with something larger than himself; he wanted others to know that he "existed" at a specific time on the planet, that he mattered.

Let us be clear that to "leave our mark" does not mean destroying private or public property, it is a metaphor regarding the imprint we leave on the soul of humankind that reminds us we are all connected even beyond time and space. We all desire to have others witness our lives -- to know that we matter. There is something sacred that lies deep within us that seeks to connect us to our oneness with others and with eternity; to confirm that our presence here has purpose and meaning and that those who live downstream from us will receive the benefits of what we add to that stream by means of our consciousness. By our mere presence on the planet we shall leave our mark. In one way or another, every moment of every day, we are leaving our mark, energetically imprinting some part of ourselves in our world. The question is not, shall we leave our mark, but, rather, what type of mark shall it be.

Some might argue that it is only the egoic self that wants to leave something of ourselves behind but I think it goes far beyond the ego. To leave your mark does not mean you have to, metaphorically, erect huge stones upon which you can inscribe your name, knowing it will stand for thousands of years. The mark you leave doesn't have to be monumental in size, just mindful in approach; with mindfulness, the mark you leave can be inscribed more deeply on a daily basis. As an example, the practice may be to remember that every time you act with compassion and loving kindness you leave your mark etched on the minds and hearts of others. The same could be said for those times when you may speak or act mindlessly, thoughtlessly, or with cruel intent; you still leave your mark, but not in ways that serve our world or those you love in a beneficent manner.

The legacy of passing down the imprint of our existence to those who follow us serves a purpose; it helps us remember that we are connected to one another which, in kind, tends to alter how we treat one another. At the end of the day, whether you are remembered 30 years or 3,000 years from now is not all that important. What's important is that when you leave this planet you know the mark you have left on the soul of humankind bears the imprint of one who cared about the past, present, and future of this family of the earth. You really do matter.

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