The Story Behind the Blog:
Legacy has been an overwhelming theme for my 2016 year. As a middle school English teacher, I discussed the idea of legacy with my students while reading The Cay by Theodore Taylor before we recessed into summer break. As part of this unit, students complete a theme writing on the topic of legacy. In their writings, some students discuss the legacies that have been left to them from relatives who have passed away, while others outline plans for the legacies they personally hope to leave behind. This year, I couldn’t help but notice how relevant and important this discussion seemed to be for my students and, on a personal level, was for me. Perhaps this had something to do with how much loss we all seemed to be facing. Even though the idea of a legacy is an important seed to plant early, I fully expect the majority of my sixth graders are still figuring themselves out, leaving them in earliest stages of determining what kind of legacy they might eventually fulfill. For me, it was being asked by one of my students what I thought my own legacy would be, that caused me to realize that I still didn’t know, not entirely anyway. Although some may say that being a teacher makes enough of an impact in and of itself to be considered a legacy, I questioned whether or not I was doing enough for my students. But like any good teacher will tell you, if you don’t know the answer to a student’s question, admit that you aren’t sure, while also reassuring them that you will work on figuring out the answer. So, that is what I’ve used my carefree summer months to figure out. This blog, Destination Legacy, is the beginning of my dream for what I’d like that legacy to be.
But, that still doesn’t explain what the blog is. In order to fully answer this, I must also address the other approach my students took when discussing the topic of legacy which was to identify legacies that have been left behind for them. For me, this legacy of importance is a story about a bear. It is a not a story I remember very well. In fact, it is a story that I swear changed with each new telling. But its presence in my memory through the passage of time suggests it is a story of significance. The story of the bear was something my Pap-Pap would tell my brothers and me when we were little and would come for a visit. The general plot was always the same. It began with him setting out on an adventure in some remote or exotic location to see if he could find a bear. The pacing and animation of the quest would slowly increase, building suspense scene by scene until suddenly Pap-Pap was face-to-face with a bear. This would result in an intense battle scene when my Pap-Pap would abruptly transform himself into the bear and attack us with tickles until tears of laughter streamed down our faces.
To this day, I don’t know what, if any, truth there ever was to the story. As a kid, I believed everything, so I would have sworn my Pap-Pap battled a bear and won (he was very convincing and has the personality to have done it). But with time, the story, which was more of a game, was outgrown and forgotten. However, recently, Pap-Pap suffered from some very serious health complications, and during this difficult time, the story of the bear resurfaced for me. As a kid, it was always just entertainment, but now I think I finally understand that the real importance this storytelling game was supposed to have on me. There is a moral to the story, and that moral will be the legacy my Pap-pap leaves for me whenever he does depart from this world, a message I know he would want to be shared with others. My interpretation of the story is that it was always meant to represent the importance of adventure. In the story, Pap-pap’s quest is a success and the bear is discovered because of the adventurous pursuits he was willing to undergo to get there. The story is a common parable about the importance of going on adventures and using traveling as a means to discovery. The bear in the story represents the entire realm of possibilities for that discovery, whether that be of self, history, or humanity that can only be obtained by deciding to take the plunge into adventure. (Did I read too far into it? Sorry, English teacher…)
My Pap-Pap’s life is further proof that this story represents what he valued most in life. Unfortunately, I’m no expert on the life of my grandfather. We never lived close by to my grandparents, so regretfully I only know bits and pieces; however, what I do know
supports my interpretation of the bear story. Pap-Pap was in the Navy, which for many serves as a gateway to travel and adventure. After that chapter, he worked for a national touring company. It was obvious to anyone he met how influential his various tours had been on him as he became very passionate in conversations about the places he travelled, always quoting random facts he’d picked up along the way. No doubt inspired by these experiences, he also planned his own personal international trips to South Africa and China. He always professed his admiration for the teaching profession, saying that in another life he could see himself choosing that career pathway. Although the learning may not have taken place in a traditional classroom, I can’t help but think about all the travelers my grandfather encountered and wonder if he ever realized that he was in fact a teacher, inspiring learning through meaningful travel experiences.
Which finally brings me back to my blog. The purpose of Destination Legacy, for me, is to continue the legacy of my grandfather by preaching his motto while traveling in his footsteps, but experiencing each adventure in my own way. Something I’m sure my Sinatra loving grandfather would approve of. Through posting about my travel experiences, I hope to inspire others to plan adventures of their own. I want to dispel myths that travel can only be for the wealthy (I mentioned that I’m a teacher, right?) while also encouraging and inspiring learning through travel (again, teacher). Although I did not actually encounter any bears on my travels (other than the one pictured), I did discover the metaphorical bear from my grandfather’s story.
I discovered the reward that can result from taking risks and overcoming fear. I believe I discovered the lesson Pap-Pap wanted to instill in everyone he met, now it’s my turn to spread the message.
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