A few weeks ago I flew to Nevada, drove to Utah, and hiked in Zion National Park. I told my grandmother I'd be taking the trip back in January while I was at her house for my grandfather's funeral. I knew she'd be excited.
Later she mailed me maps and brochures from her trip to Utah in the 80s.
When I was a little girl my grandparents traveled every summer. They'd be gone for weeks and weeks, and when they finally made it back we'd head over to their house to do my favorite thing--look at pictures and receive presents.
I can still remember the book they brought me from Mount Rushmore. I read it twenty times. I remember staring at the picture of people eating dinner on a table precariously placed on a president's face.
How could that be real?
I must have asked that question every time I turned a page in their photo albums. Glacial lakes, canyons, deserts, native American homes carved out of cliffs... By the time I reached high school they'd visited every one of the contiguous United States. I'd stand in the den tracing their routes on a US map, a map so covered in pins it may as well have been braille.
That map made a profound impact on the person I became.
At my grandmother's house in January I found one of my grandfather's walking sticks, one of a few he made, collected, and used on his many, many adventures. Nana told me to keep it and I did.
Here's a picture of me with my grandfather's stick hiking the Narrows in Zion:
I can't say for sure, but I think it's likely this picture wouldn't exist if not for my grandparents and their map, their pictures and educational presents. My grandparents, Nana and Poppa, stirred in me a sense of wonder, planted a desire for discovery and provided an example that would motivate me to follow in their wandering footsteps.
I thought as I hiked, fingers clinging to wood, my whole body leaning on this stick, needing it to keep me stable on the uneven and unpredictable trail, "This is my inheritance."
My grandfather passed down a hiking stick and with it a legacy of adventure and exploration.
My grandparents aren't church-going people. They didn't tell me Bible stories or teach me about God. But they did teach me to be a scout. And I wouldn't be the God scout I am without their eyes-open example.
Today, take a moment to consider who you are. If you're a parent or a grandparent or an aunt or uncle, consider the ways who you are, what you do and what you love might be impacting the young people watching you live.
Inheritance isn't just about what we teach kids. It's also about living the kind of life that inspires them to do extraordinary things and be extraordinary people.
When we live big lives the people around us are inspired to live big lives, too.
You might also want to identify the inheritances in your life. What gifts from your parents and grandparents are shaping who you've become?
Share in the comments! I'd love to hear from you.