For some time now, I have been a quiet admirer of a certain man. He was never a friend, in fact he was a business owner and I was a regular patron. Unlike many of his peers, he seemed to make a conscious effort to connect meaningfully with the people who contributed to his success – his loyal customers. I admired his skill in conversation and the thoughtfulness he put into building relationships, the confidence his staff had in him and the ease with which they worked in his presence. Yes, it was business, but infused with a certain unassuming altruism.
Yesterday I learned of his passing. I knew that he was seriously ill, so I can’t say the news came as a shock. But I was surprised that it affected me so much and that I am so deeply saddened. He was far from old. In my memory he is wearing a favourite blue checked shirt, his eyes are creased at the laughter lines with just a little twinkle in them and he is engaged in lively small talk. I remember his mannerisms and voice well, even though I did not see him in over a year. We only ever had brief encounters, but this one human being made a deep impression on me.
We only live once. We cross paths with many people only once in our lives and for a fleeting moment. And yet, we have the potential to influence greatly, without even being aware of it ourselves. I do not believe this man ever cared to think that I would sit here thinking of him. We played no real part in each other’s lives.
But then I think of the countless times when a small kind gesture has suddenly altered how I have felt in an instant. And a simple word of appreciation or a colleague’s offer to make me a cup of tea, can often be enough to give me just that added buoyancy to make it through the day.
So in the same vein, thank you for those kind comments that you put at the bottom of my posts. They are very special and uplifting. Just as deeply as words can wound, so they can also heal, inspire and propel someone on to do more than they ever imagined possible…
Has a virtual stranger ever had such an impact on you?