I think we’ve all received that email at one time or another where a young boy who has been teased and tormented at school finally clears out his locker and plans to go home and kill himself, but on the way he drops his books and someone stops to help him pick them up, someone who becomes a friend, and in that moment changes his plans and his life. (If you haven't read it yet, here's one link, and then another, kindly supplied by the hosts of a wonderful site called Zen Moments, where I also contribute stories from time to time.
There are others, such as the story of a cab driver who picked up an elderly woman on her way to a hospice and ended up driving her around town for hours without charging her so that she could relive her favorite memories one last time. Then there are the Christmas stories about single mothers with no money to buy presents for their children, and yet many presents arrive.
Last but not least is the story of Teddy Stoddard, which has inspired many, but according to Snopes, is a fictional story of a young boy who taught his teacher a life lesson she will never forget.
The themes that all these stories have running through them are kindness and compassion, something we could all use a little more of in our lives. Whether they are true or not, they are meant to make us stop for a moment and think about the things we say and do—or don’t say and do--and realize the possible impact we can have on the people around us, from our closest family members to the clerks and cashiers we meet in passing in the drive-throughs, checkout lines, and toll booths of our lives.
I’ve had several moments in my life that either gave me hope, courage, or the willpower and determination to continue. One that stands out in my mind is rather gross, but unforgettable. I was pregnant with my only child, a high risk pregnancy, and I had started bleeding, and was terrified I would lose the baby. I called a friend about something else and in the course of the conversation, broke down with my fear. Quite nonchalantly, she said to me, “Oh, you’d be surprised at how much you can bleed and still keep the baby.” She then went on to tell me of her experience, which had been much worse than mine was.
Still, I held onto her words like a lifeline until I delivered a healthy baby boy.
I’ve since gone back and thanked the woman for getting me through that terrifying time, and she doesn’t even remember our conversation. It was just an off the cuff remark she made to reassure me and she didn’t give it a second thought.
Which just goes to show that you never know how your words or actions will affect the lives of others.
I’ve had people come back to me, and tell me things that I said to them that gave them new hope and determination for a situation they were facing. Things I don’t remember saying, but made all the difference in the world to them…and for that I am glad.
Any moment can be one that you or someone you’ve encountered remembers for a lifetime, a little jewel in the sandstorm of life, for you to take out and remember and appreciate when the going gets tough. Most of those moments are rooted in random acts of kindness. I’m not saying you need to join the World Kindness Movement, or any other kindness organization, but simply encouraging you to take time in your day to smile at someone who might not receive a smile otherwise, open doors for men and women alike, especially the elderly and mothers with young children, say please and thank you to clerks and other attendants, or stop and listen, really listen, to a child.
We all want to matter to someone, we all want to count. We all want to be seen and heard in ways large and small. All it takes to acknowledge that special person in your life, a friend, acquaintance, or even a complete stranger, is a moment of your time.