A Story For The Next Time You Feel Like You Are Not Making A Difference

My friend Scott passed away unexpectedly earlier this year. Recently, I spoke at length with his mother. Here is a simple, yet powerful, story she told me about him.

Scott worked as the office manager of a janitorial supply store in Sante Fe, New Mexico. It wasn’t a large store and so he was the primary contact for customers.

A few weeks ago, quite unexpectedly, Scott’s 45-year-old heart stopped and never resumed. Both friends and family were devistated. His mother and brother drove from Iowa to collect his affairs, friends gathered to tell stories about him, and another employee stepped in to run the store. I’ll call her Becky.

The day after Scott’s passing, Becky’s first customer was a little old woman who only wanted to buy a single item. She refused to let Becky check her out insisted on being served by Scott. Sadly, Becky had to tell the woman the bad news. The elderly lady expressed sadness and left the store shortly thereafter with her small purchase. Other customers filed in and out of the store and expressed their condolences, but business continued as usual. 

At the end of the day, Becky called one of her friends on an unrelated matter. In the course of the conversation, her friend said that she was concerned about her own housekeeper. A regular and faithful employee, this housekeeper was just not herself. She seemed despondent and broke down into tears several times that day. This housekeeper, ironically, turned out to be the same little old lady who came into Scott’s store that morning and bought one small item.

When the housekeeper finally could talk about why she was so sad, she said she lost someone special that day – someone who listened to her. She went on further to say that she often needed many things for her work, and today was no exception, but she only ever bought one item at a time from Scott’s store. She made many extra trips because it always made her happy to go into the store and talk to Scott before work everyday, so she never bought more than a single item at a time as an excuse to talk to him. Scott was always there and always willing to listen, for years.

He made a profound difference in the life of one person simply by listening. How many other lives did he touch?

Scott, I wish you were here so I could tell you how much that little story says about you, and how much it means to me. But since I can’t tell you that, I can only hope that others will read it and, when they’re feeling low, feeling their age, and wondering whether they’re doing anything worthwhile, perhaps they can take solace and inspiration in the fact that making a difference is often quiet work.

Like so many seemingly small things in life, this story won’t make the news. Many will read it, and pass quickly on to more sensational news or other crises in their day. Yet, that doesn’t diminish the quiet effect that one person can have on another …

… when they simply care enough to listen.

 

 

Posted in In memoriam | 3 Comments

Red Tulip

In memoriam,  Scott Svetly 1969 - 2014

In memoriam,
Scott Svetly 1969 – 2014

When the tulip bulb emerges,
from it’s winter sleep, and pokes it’s head
above the frozen earth, we welcome it.
The warm gesture of Spring.

But deep in our hearts,
we know that it’s red vibrance will soon fade;
the once-lustrous petals falling quietly.
Through our fingers.

So too is it true that all beauty is fleeting,
that our youth, and even our being,
will also pass back into the earth.
Like old petals.

But looking up from the fallen, our grief,
we can feel that the warmth of Spring is still here,
made all the better by that one little red tulip.
So fragile, yet so enduring.

And so too may we endure
knowing that the tulip which brought so much joy
isn’t really gone, it’s just sleeping.
In our hearts.

Posted in In memoriam | 2 Comments

11 Seemingly Random Thoughts

Here are 11 seemingly random thoughts on a Sunday night. *

photo credit: markchadwickart via photopin cc

  1. That unbearable feeling we get when waiting for something good to happen could be Nature’s way of telling us to savor the moment.
  2. What you say is not as interesting as what it says about you.
  3. The amount of time you spend with your children is directly proportional to the amount of time your children spend with a good role model.
  4. If you can’t remember someone’s name, there’s a good chance they won’t remember yours.
  5. Sleep is a sure-fire cure for insomnia.
  6. Wisdom is what you breathe in when your mouth is closed.
  7. It’s hard to imagine a peaceful society with everyone pointing a gun at one another. Unless you define peace differently than me.
  8. If people aren’t talking to you, you’re probably not saying anything worth hearing.
  9. Listening closely is difficult with a closed mind.
  10. People who like to use the expression “kids today” were kids yesterday.
  11. Nobody reads long lists.

* If any of these thoughts sounds remotely wise, I’m sure it was already said by someone famous.

photo credit: markchadwickart via photopin cc

Posted in Random Thoughts | Tagged , , ,

Fault

“Let none find fault with others; let none see the omissions and commissions of others. But let one see one’s own acts, done and undone.”

– Buddha

A fault line is a break in the earth’s crust between two geologic plates moving in different directions. The slow buildup of tension eventually causes one plate or the other to give. When that happens it’s called an earthquake, and all to often an earthquake is the scene of massive devastation.

photo credit: _namtaf_ via photopin cc

photo credit: _namtaf_ via photopin cc

When we point our fingers in blame a fault line is created. It builds tension that is as unseen as the movement of geologic plates but just as real. Eventually, something’s got to give.

Ironically, one of the ways to avoid creating that tension is to give – to give a little in your position, give time, give an inch, give back, or give your full attention to another’s thoughts and feelings.

If something’s going to give eventually anyway, why bother finding the fault.


Today’s gift of time … Hosted a marvelous open house for our Toastmasters club (marvelous because of our guest speakers, and our excellent members) … Brought supper to my son’s Robotics team. 

Posted in In the community | Tagged

New Day’s Eve

“Approach the New Year with resolve to find the opportunities hidden in each new day.”

– Michael Josephson

Is a new year really that much better than a new day?

photo credit: sunface13 via photopin cc

photo credit: sunface13 via photopin cc

For all the pomp and circumstance that surrounds the new year, one might be tempted to conclude that something significant was going to happen on January 1st instead of the significant amount of time we spend laying on the couch recovering.

Maybe it would be better to celebrate the start of each day with the vivacity that we exude on New Year’s Eve. After all, every morning is a chance to … well, live.

If your New Year’s resolve has already dissolved, try getting out of bed tomorrow morning with a New Year’s Eve verve.

But please do it slowly. Your zeal muscle may need a little stretching first.


Today’s gift of time … Cooked breakfast and dinner for the family, and hosted an additional exchange student last night on New Year’s Eve.

Posted in Around the House | 6 Comments

Generos_ty

“Improvement begins with I.”

– Arnold Glasow

photo credit: chrisinplymouth via photopin cc

photo credit: chrisinplymouth via photopin cc

I wonder sometimes if my generosity stops at the end of my pen.

When the ink hits the check and a little bit of money flows out of my account into the hands of a charity, do I bother to think about where it goes? Do I know the name of anyone I helped when I wrote that check?

I wonder sometimes if the gifts I give aren’t really gifts at all.

Is the five minutes I spend in the store enough to really find something someone wants? How many times have I bought a present for someone because I liked it, without giving much regard to what that person needs or wants? Do I expect a thanks or appreciation for my gifts?

I wonder sometimes if I’m missing the point.

Isn’t the point of Christmas to not think of myself? Are other people worth the time to pick out a gift that shows that they matter? Are they worth more than a gift?

Whatever the answers, it’s worth trying to remove the “I” from generos_ty and see what happens.

Today’s gift of time … Mailed a card to a friend in rehab. 

Posted in In the community | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Feeling Generous

photo credit: Gayle Nicholson via photopin cc

photo credit: Gayle Nicholson via photopin cc

When I am greedy, I feel poor.
When I am generous, I feel rich.

When I am greedy, I am poor.
When I am generous, I am rich.

But I repeat myself.

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