Seeds lead us just as much into what came before as into what comes next.
— Nora Bateson, Small Arcs of Larger Circles

Those who have preceded have left a rich heritage upon which to build the future. From the various cultures, lessons will be learned and incorporated with the ideas of our ancestors.
— Jonas Salk, ‘Are We Being Good Ancestors?’

Nothing makes sense without reference to what went before, and what comes afterwards.
— James Rebanks, A Shepherd’s Life

There’s no completion in patterns,
For patterns are constantly restitched in new patterns.
There’s no completion in history, which kneels
bare and mute at the feet of the future.
— Alan Lightman, Song of Two Worlds

In this way traditions are kept alive as new thoughts are added. The effect upon the old and the new is then not “either/or” but rather “both/and”.
— Jonas Salk, ‘Are We Being Good Ancestors?’

It stands for human life, our connection to our past, our present and our future.
— James Kerr, Legacy

What legacies will we leave behind, not only for the generations that succeed us but also for the epochs and species that will come after ours? Are we being good ancestors…?
— Robert Macfarlane, Underland

If we want to be good ancestors, we should show future generations how we coped with an age of great change and great crises.
— Jonas Salk, ‘Are We Being Good Ancestors?’

We have an obligation to make things beautiful, to not leave the world uglier than we found it. An obligation not to empty the oceans, not to leave our problems for the next generation. We have an obligation to clean up after ourselves, and not to leave our children with a world we’ve shortsightedly messed up, shortchanged and crippled.
— Neil Gaiman, The View from the Cheap Seats

What is a legacy? I’ll never get to see.
— Emma Sedlak, What Slight Gaps Remain

There are never bricks to put in place from which to see everything, only stepping stones towards what’s next.
— Nick Sousanis, Unflattening

what mattered was not the past at all: it was the future. One must keep moving, creating what will be: acting in the world and making a difference to it.
— Sarah Bakewell, At the Existentialist Café

No matter the self-conceited importance of our labours we are all compost for worlds we cannot yet imagine.
— David Whyte, Consolations

It is cathedral philosophy, the thinking behind the people who designed and built the great cathedrals, knowing that they would never live long enough to see them finished.
— Charles Handy, The Empty Raincoat

Cathedrals were created as compelling statements of a complete theory of life: of our deepest needs, our spiritual destiny and the guidance necessary to live the right life. The religious project may have lost its allure, but we should hold on to the scale and sincerity of its intent.
— Alain de Botton & John Armstrong, Art as Therapy

When the cathedrals you build are invisible, made of perspectives and ideas, you forget that you are inside them and that the ideas they consist of were, in fact, made, constructed by people who analyzed and argued and shifted our assumptions. They are the fruit of labor. Forgetting means a failure to recognize the power of the process and the fluidity of meanings and values.
— Rebecca Solnit, Whose Story Is This?

But it is still not too late to act. It will take a far-reaching vision. It will take courage. It will take fierce determination to act now, to lay the foundations when we may not know all the details about how to shape the ceiling. In other words, it will take cathedral thinking.
— Greta Thunberg, No One is Too Small to Make a Difference

this legacy, eager to be given, yet no one wanting to carry its burden
— Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib, The Crown Ain’t Worth Much

True leaders are stewards of the future. They take responsibility for adding to the legacy.
— James Kerr, Legacy

If we are to be ancestors to such a future world, we will be seen as wise forebears. If not, we will be seen as prodigal forebears who, at a decisive moment, dissipated an opportunity by not assuming responsibility for the future evolution of our species.
— Jonas Salk, ‘Are We Being Good Ancestors?’

I want to get away from the kinship structures that are supposed to hold me together. To mess up the story I have been told about myself. To hold the story upside down by its tail.
— Deborah Levy, Hot Milk

Our time is limited. Understanding the fragility of life is the first step in understanding our role and responsibility as a leader. Our greatest responsibility is to honour those who came before us and those who will come after, to ‘leave the jersey in a better place’. We are the stewards of our organisations, the caretakers of our own lineage. Our actions today will echo beyond our time. They are our legacy. Manaaki Whenua, Manaaki Tangata, Haere whakamua. Care for the land, Care for the people, Go forward.
— James Kerr, Legacy

To have a home is to have a biography. A narrative to refer to in years to come.
— Deborah Levy, Swallowing Geography

All that remains is legacy.
— Lauren Elkin, Flâneuse

This piece, among several others, is collected in the Bricolage PDF.