art, celebration, children, legacy, memory

Step 243: Celebrations and Legacy Building

“A nation reveals itself by the people it honors, the people it remembers, and the people it celebrates.” ~ President John F. Kennedy

While Dan and I were in Philly over the weekend, we stopped into the U.S. Mint to see where the money’s made. Because it was a Saturday, the manufacturing floor was not operating but we could take a look at the machinery and the self-guided plaques told us about the process.

As we were leaving the Mint, there was a small section dedicated to commemorative coins. Off to the side there was a display of memorabilia that the Mint produced to commemorate Charles M. Schultz, the creator of Peanuts, one of my very favorite set of characters. I went to Schultz’s house in Santa Rosa, California, a number of years ago and was blown away by his creative process and the simplicity of his life. One time a reporter asked him if he could confirm the rumor that Charlie Brown was actually a reflection of his own personality when Schultz was a child. He replied, “Of course he is. And so is every one of the other characters. They’re all me.”

In the Schultz display at the Mint, the JFK quote at the top of this post appears next to a listing of quotes from famous artists who commented on Charles Schulz’s passing and his tremendous influence on American pop culture. In Santa Rosa, a similar display appears, though it spans roughly a 100 foot long, floor-to-ceiling wall.

Charles Schulz was loved during his lifetime, and has remained well-remembered and celebrated long after his passing. I dare say that his memory will continue on for many generations to come. The fact that we continue to celebrate a man who remained so tapped in to his childhood throughout his life gives me great hope that we can do the same, and want to do the same.

That got me thinking about the subject of legacy, the efforts we put into the world now so that we will have a last impacting long after we cross over. The people we hold up as examples of inspiration and admiration says a lot about the people we mean to be, which in turn tells us a lot about the kind of world we wish to live in, which again in turn tells us about our collective values and purpose.

Once we know our purpose, then legacy-building isn’t a chore – it’s a natural process. Charles Schulz woke up every day to turn his attention toward the concerns of the world, and mad those concerns bearable through the stories and experiences of the Peanuts kids. This says to me that we do care about the common human experience. He made us all recognize just how connected we are, and while we all have our own unique quirks, much like the Peanuts gang, we all want to be loved, accepted, and encouraged to practice. We all want to find out way. And that is an act worth celebrating.