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“You are a legend in this city”, they told me. They are wrong.

Recently, at the end of a presentation on community issues, a participant told me: "You are a legend in this city." Although I appreciate the kind words of that participant, the error of that appreciation is not only obvious, but serious: I am not a legend, nor do I pretend to be it. But that sentence got me thinking.

If I understand "legend" in the sense of someone famous, known, or prominent (for example, of "a sports legend"), I certainly am not and will never qualify for that category.

But if "legend" is understood in a more literal way, that is, returning to its etymological meaning, it could then be said that we are all a "legend" or we are invited to be it, because "legend" comes from Latin and means something like “Things that can or should be read”. Now, we are not talking about reading books, but about another type of reading.

"Legere" in Latin does not mean "read" in the usual sense of that word, but rather "collect." In fact, “collect” is related to “lecture”. The root “lec” means something like “to gather in such a way that what is gathered can be understood and interpreted”. In turn, "lec" is connected with the Greek root "log", as in "lógos".

In this context, "legend" refers to those elements of reality, material or immaterial, real or imaginary, that have been gathered and connected in some way that become intelligible, or at least that is how we perceive them.

This interconnection between the different elements of existence is not immediately evident or patent, that is, it must be “read between the lines”. And that ability to read (legere) between (inter) lines is what we call “intelligence” (inter-legere). The connection between "legend" and "intelligence" is clear.

The legend, then, is the result of having read the reality between the lines until it is comprehensible and, in order to share that reality, the “reading” thus done becomes a narrative, a story. When that story is repeated from generation to generation and, therefore, guides people's lives and decisions, it becomes "legend", or mythos in Greek.

In other words, the legend, when we analyze it in some depth, is not a story of the past without any basis or a lie repeated throughout history. Nor is it just a cloak of fame or popularity that everyone talks about. “Legend” is having “read reality” until finding its interconnections and making a story out of that reading.

Perhaps because of my work as a journalist or as an educator (that is, because of my storytelling work) someone, with the best of intentions, has assumed that what I do is “legendary”, and to some extent it is, if we understand it as find and share those connections that only exist “between the lines”. But I am not a legend.

One thing is certain: as an old man once taught me. one begins by reading books and ends by reading people. In that sense, we are all legend.

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