A dear friend of mine recently had a close call with his own mortality. Normally a pretty jovial guy, he spent a couple of very somber days making phone calls and sending out emails to frantic friends and family worried about his safety and fearing the worst. He and I talked about the whole experience and along with being shaken in a way I’ve never seen from him, the other sentiment he kept expressing was how humbled and awed he was from the outpouring of support and concern from his friends. He said, you go through life, and you know you have friends, but you don’t always realize how much you mean to someone.
We have a lot of contact with people in our lives. Some of it is intentional and some coincidental. I have friends who I’ve know for thirty years now and with whom I have very specifically cultivated relationships. I didn’t plan to become friends with my delivery man but when you see someone every few days, you can’t help but learn their stories. We are relational creatures.
Even the smallest interactions matter sometimes. There is an older couple who walk the road I drive every day at the same time. In the spring, the wife began walking alone. A few weeks went by, then a month. Three months later, I was driving the road and the husband was back walking as well. I wept with joy for a couple I’ve never met but feel as if they are part of my life in a small way every day.
I have retold stories when a friend made a huge impact with some small gesture that has stayed with me my whole life and they will have no recollection of having said or did the thing that was so important to me. I have had people express the same sentiment to me. I am sure you have as well.
So when you think about whatever it is that you do that makes a difference in this world – whether it is writing poetry or planting a garden or raising children or painting water colors or volunteering or listening, really listening to someone sitting next to you on the bus, remember, the very act of being in that moment can be a life-changing moment to another person.
You never know the place you hold in someone’s life.