To date, one of my most vivid birthday memories happened way back when. I don’t remember the exact year, but it was sometime between grades 3 and 5. Back before I had enough autonomy to declare my birthday a personal holiday, I was on my way to school one morning, very much against my will. My neighbour would drop me at the Parish Church and I would cross the road and walk across the bus stop and make my way. As I walked past the bus stop, one of the members of a group of boys walking towards me stopped directly in from of me and said “tell me Happy Birthday”. At first, I was startled because how could it possibly be anyone else’s birthday but mine! I recovered enough to respond, “you tell me Happy Birthday”. He was understandably taken aback and demanded to know if it was really my birthday. I responded yes, we both laughed, wished each other ‘Happy Birthday’ and continued along with our lives. The mornings are dark in January, and with that, compounded by my surprise, I never even got a good look at the person; I’m sure he didn’t get more than an impression of me either. I don’t know if we’ve even crossed paths since that early morning in January but I have never forgotten that encounter.
In my earlier years, it was just a funny coincidence. The kind of thing you look back on in innocence and laugh and marvel a bit about how unlikely it was that he would have happened to make that demand of someone who shared his birthday. As I matured though, and as I recall it with each passing year, the impact of it changed. I realized that in that instance, an interaction that likely lasted less than 2 minutes, I learned several lessons.
I learned that there really are coincidences. I don’t know if he’d made that demand of anyone else that morning. I don’t know if he’d done it in previous years or if he has done it since. But on that specific morning, in that particular year, our paths crossed… and that was that; a memory was created. Sometimes things happen that seem unusual and you wonder how life could align so perfectly. You make a choice that leads to a particular outcome and luckily, serendipity kicks in. Coincidence, no more, no less. This one was fun and it’s given me a great memory and I appreciate that.
People really do remember how you made them feel long after you’re gone from their lives. More than 2 decades later, I still remember how we both laughed. I remember how much of a lift it added to my day. I rarely remember details, but I do remember feelings. I’ve worked in customer contact jobs for the entirety of my professional life and I aspire at all times to be patient and understanding to the persons I’m tasked with assisting. I see the exact opposite too often and I’ve committed to never adding to someone’s frustration if I can help. I try as much as possible to listen and guide and put people at ease when I interact with them. It can be difficult as an empath to get physically close to others, but I understand the value of a hug when a person is feeling down and contact when reassurance is needed.
I also came to the realization that we have a greater impact on people than we can even imagine. We tend to focus on our major actions: entire conversations, the times that we’ve helped someone, our day to day, regular interactions with the same people as well as the things we consciously do and say that might hurt someone. But those aren’t the only things that matter. A smile, a compliment, a helping hand, even in passing, can change someone’s life forever. The way we carry ourselves could inspire someone who we may never even have a conversation with. The way we do our jobs, the level of detail and integrity we apply to it might change the direction of someone’s life. The way we drive on the roads might alter someone’s trajectory by making them late for an important meeting or date. We have the power to change lives for the better or the worse with every decision, every interaction, every word, every deed. It’s a responsibility to which I have come to assign a lot of importance and I truly try to ensure that I tread carefully and do no harm to those I encounter on my path through this world.
As I approach another birthday (Yay Me!), I take the time to reflect and recommit to the path I’ve chosen. I do not take lightly this life I’ve been given. I do not take my blessings for granted nor will I squander my talents. I continue to aspire to become the best possible version of myself. I will love wholeheartedly and treat everyone the way I wish to be treated. I encourage all to do the same. Understand and respect your importance, impact and influence. Try as much as possible to use them for good. Someone, somewhere has a memory of you from an encounter that could have lasted no more than a few seconds. Someone, somewhere had their life changed because of something you said or did, even if you aren’t aware. I hope wherever that person is, and wherever life took him, that he is blessed and well.
Our very existence carries a responsibility and we choose how we bear and manifest it. I hope we all do so with grace, integrity, kindness and love.
4 thoughts on “Growing and Glowing”
This is beautiful.
LikeLiked by 1 person
As an empath, this whole post resonated with me! Thank you so much for sharing of yourself. Your authenticity is obvious and inspiring to others.
Thank you as well! I’m so glad you found value in it.