Saturday, August 22, 2015
Today I am grateful for encouragement. What a fantastic word. What an even better action. Every living being does better with a little encouragement. Even plants. Or animals and especially humans thrive better with encouraged. I wish employers would catch on to this. The really, really good ones do. . .and their staff never want to leave them and would do whatever they can to please them.
A billion years ago (ever notice how much still affects me from a billion years ago?). . .anyway. . .a billion years ago I was the side-kick of a friend who was writing lyrics for a musical, along with another friend who was helping to score the piece. The lyricist was stuck for the correct word. It was below freezing outside and well past midnight when he said, “I can’t concentrate and I’ll never find the right word sitting here. Get your boots and coat on. Both of you!” The next thing I knew we were across the street from his house, sailing down an icy hill on a toboggan! In the frozen tundra. Laughing like the idiots were are. Nuts! Alive!
Just as quickly as he instigated the event, he called it quits. “Okay! That’s enough! I’ve got it! I have to go write.” And we were back in the warmth of the house. The word that had escaped him was “encourage” and it came to him with the frosty wind in his face and the ice crunching under the sled. True story. I can still sing the song. But I won’t. The line is “. . .encourage with your words. . .”
I thought of that story today on my way home from breakfast with a good friend who has experienced her own share of trauma in the past six months. I replayed my words of encouragement as I was driving home. Funny thing is, although the words were meant for her, they resonated with me, too. That’s how powerful encouragement is. You give a little. You get back a lot more.
I caught the stop light at the main street where I turn right to go home. While sitting there, I noticed a mailman walking his beat across the way, in the neighborhood where a lot of my Friday lunch friends live. Their mailman had been the topic of discussion the other day. Some are not very pleased. They liked the old guy. One thinks he is showing signs of good character and communication. Ask five people, you’ll get five different opinions. On anything. Is that him, I wondered? No one had given a physical description so I wasn’t sure. The light was fixing to change. There was a car behind me, so I had to turn the corner soon.
I went straight. I hadn’t planned it. I didn’t exactly know if it was a good idea or if I was just pumped full of encouragement-adrenalin from my good conversation at breakfast. I wondered if I was crossing over from “kind” to pushy. The tapes ran on rapid-fire! But I know me. . .and I have learned to trust my guts. . .so I went straight.
“Excuse me, young man,” I yelled out the window. Walking up the steps to deliver mail, he didn’t hear me. “Excuse me. Please!” He turned and slumped towards the car, resigned and unhappy. Was he preparing himself for another complaint? “Yes, ma-am.” He looked defeated. He was polite. I asked his name, knowing I’d recognize it when I heard it. “You’re the one!” I said. He was confused. “I have friends who live in this neighborhood and I am starting to hear really good things about you! You were one of the topics at lunch yesterday. There are people in this neighborhood who are very, very happy with you.”
His physical demeanor changed right before my eyes. He smiled like a kid getting just what he asked for at Christmas. “Really?” he said. His relief was physical! “I’m trying so hard! But you know that (I won’t use the name of the former mailman). . .he was great and everybody in this neighborhood LOVED him. He’s still helping me out. . .he really IS a great guy. . .but those are some tough shoes to fill! I’m trying, though. I am really trying!” He shook his head. “Tough shoes!” Laughing now, his gloom gone, replaced with hope.
I made a U-turn. . .he went on to complete his route. . .each of us a little taller. . .and happier. . .because of a tiny bit of encouragement.