Finding the right words is not always easy.
Without getting too philosophical I can honestly say I’m always looking for opportunity to integrate lessons into my children’s every day lives. The classroom teaches them a variety of topics, but life… now life… the every day stuff is where they will learn the lessons which will sustain them through life.
My hope of course is that on the other side of their childhood, they venture into the world as kind, loving and accepting individuals. Truthfully speaking, it’s taken me 40-plus years to get there and I’m pretty sure there is still yet even more to learn. The fundamentals, however, I was taught early on and as life progresses so too does the evolution of who we become.
One never knows how their actions (good, bad or indifferent) may affect the life of another. Plenty of artists have penned a multitude of songs that illustrate this. Books have been written covering the topic and movies even made. Yet, at the heart of it, it’s just the simplest of things which can help shape the life or even turn a bad day into a good one for another person.
I recently came across a quote by Fred Rogers, which perfectly summed up a lesson I’ve come to learn in the past year. It is a lesson I would now like to pass to my children, without fostering a feeling of self-importance.
“If you could only sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to the people you may never even dream of. There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person,” Fred Rogers.
There are more people than I can count, that have had this effect on my life personally. Whenever and however possible I always try and let them know. For some it’s actually been decades later, yet for whatever reason I feel it important for people to know… they matter.
Simply put, we don’t wake up each morning, put on our shoes and think ‘today I’m going to affect a life,’ but ultimately whether we realize it or not … we do.
We read blurbs about it all the time. The random stranger who helps a person out on the side of the road, in the grocery store or at the Post Office. What I’ve come to learn, however, is that it’s much bigger and at the same time simpler than that.
Often, just living as we are, driven by our heart and a rational head we impact the life of another who just happens to be a part of our every day life. I’ve always been a believer of mentors. Persons whom I watch travel through life and admire in some way or capacity.
Like most kids (I’d imagine) it started for me at a young age and continued on through my early professional days and well into parenthood. I’m not the person looking to reinvent the wheel in any capacity. Modify the wheel (slightly) maybe, reinvent … absolutely not. Experience should be appreciated and learned from, be it a mistake or a triumph, lessons are always there to be learned.
Humbling oneself is perhaps one of the greatest things we can do for ourselves and those in our lives. Recognizing not only our strengths, but our weaknesses daily benefits the greater of all good.
Okay, so I recognize that is perhaps a pretty big statement, but recently I had my own sort of moment of clarity which may help illustrate the simplicity of it.
Recently, while shopping at a local retailer I had a less than desirable experience with one of the clerks. For whatever reason, this clerk and I always seem to ‘butt heads’ (for lack of a better term) when I shop at this particular store. On this occasion I asserted my displeasure to the manager (16 years of retail makes me a somewhat tough customer). As we left my five-year-old poignantly pointed out that I seem to be the only one that has problems with this particular clerk. Of course it was not said this matter-of-factly. The reflection was offered in a sweet, tender voice which suddenly shook me by the shoulders and helped me see … maybe I am the problem.
We often operate, especially during the holidays, in survival mode. Pressed for time, frustrated by what we may or may not have found, overwhelmed by a list which does not seem to shorten. These are all valid things. The challenge however is reflecting back to those wise words offered by the late Mr. Rogers, “There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person.”
The trick now becomes to not only remember this, travel through every day life with the empowerment of this knowledge, but to teach it to our children.
Truthfully, life cannot always be ‘rainbows and butterflies,’ but imagine how amazing each day would be if we put our shoes on thinking of how we could make it so… if even for just that day. Powerful stuff.
Teresa Hammond is circulation manager for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.