I finally got around to watching the most recent Downton Abbey movie. I love British historical dramas. Always have. Many years ago I even created a blog about all the shows I’d watched on a platform called “Vertical Toast”. (I’m still amused by that title!) I thoroughly enjoy immersing myself in the time period, the scenery and locations, and all the wonderful British characters.
Downton was one of my favorite series. (Some of the other shows on the top of my list are Call the Midwife, The Bletchley Circle, Monarch of the Glen- I could go on and on!) But we’ve been given the luxury of twelve years to fall in love with all the characters and locations in Downton. We’ve watched as they dealt with adversity, moved though important events, and grown as both individuals and a family.
During the second movie I found myself smiling so hard that my face hurt. As always, the scenery was magnificent, acting superb and storyline, well, just delightful. I enjoyed visiting the breathtaking estates, eavesdropping on the beautiful parties, and immersing myself in the plot, including the (SPOILER ALERT- if you haven’t seen the movie yet and don’t want to know what happens, don’t continue!) very heartfelt, emotional ending.
Perhaps I’m getting older. Or maybe it’s because Mr. Fellows outdid himself in the brilliant way he told this particular story. But this film took me on a journey of self-reflection that I hadn’t anticipated.
OK, we knew Violet, (The Dowager, Countess of Grantham) was going to have to die eventually- Maggie Smith is 87 years old for crying out loud! And Mr. Fellows gave us hints throughout the movie, allowing us time to prepare. But my goodness, when she died, I found myself weeping. True, that’s not unusual for me at all. But this time I became keenly aware that my tears weren’t just because I was so invested in the story. This time I could see my place in the circle of life that was so aptly portrayed in this movie.
Watching my friends at Downton (they’re friends in my head anyway!) having such grand experiences is always a joy. But the end of the movie got me wondering: is anything I’m doing (or have done) in my life worthy of a legacy as grand as what the Countess of Grantham leaves behind? Because, oh my gosh, if I can have a death like hers, surrounded by the people I love the most, well, then- I will have considered my life a success.
As I dwelled on this, the strangest thought popped into my head. I was on my morning walk when I passed a man mowing his lawn. His lawnmower made a strange noise, like there was a problem with the motor. And I thought about how it’s so amazing that my brother, who was always curious about how things worked, found his way to a career in Aerospace Engineering. And now, along with designing planes, he spends his days explaining how things work to others. It’s actually quite amazing! He has the skills and tools to figure out exactly how anything in the world works. What a wonderful sense of comfort, safety and security that must offer him. Those things, along with the fact that he’s co-created a wonderful family, have solidified his legacy.
And then a little light bulb went off in my head. I realized that I had the same curiosity as my brother, except mine wasn’t around motors and engines. Mine was all about the human experience! I love exploring and examining why things happen in our lives and how we can learn from all our experiences. And don’t get me started on how exciting it is to delve into the wisdom of our bodies- those conversations are fascinating! Just the same way talking about engineering is for my brother.
And like my brother, I’ve chosen to take all the skills and tools I’ve learned through the years and share them with others. In the past, I’ve diminished these qualities in myself, brushing them off as less valuable. But now I understand that my ability to listen with an open heart, hold a safe space where others can share their fears, heart’s desires, and limiting beliefs and provide feedback that allows people to see the opportunities available to them is just as valuable as what my brother does.
We aren’t so different after all! Suddenly I feel closer to him than ever before.
So I look forward to the next Downton movie in the same way I look towards the next chapter in my life. There are still so many adventures to have! A grand finale for the Countess of Grantham, but me, I’m just getting started!
I may not have a huge estate on the most magnificent grounds, a grand staircase, or a dining hall large enough to entertain dignitaries, but I do have a home filled with love. And my sense is that if I can continue to open myself up, live in my magic, and share myself with the intention of contributing to a world where we all reside more fully in our loving, my end will replicate that amazing scene in Downton and I will leave behind the legacy of my dreams.
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