For many ages, I wanted to be relevant. Finally, at 57, I thought I’d acquired some relevance to life. Then, I realized I’d been relevant all along.
In time, you can’t be irrelevant. It’s impossible. Your existence makes a difference. You determine the value of that difference. The impact you have on your surroundings, on the people around you, and on the world are determined by who you are as a person. If you’re going to be a ‘ripple in the water’ be a ripple that changes the world for the better.
You, my dear friend, are relevant.
You make a difference. And you, only you, determine the ultimate value of your difference.
One morning I arrived downtown Denver, to meet a client. As I stepped out of the truck, parked against the curb, I noticed a man sitting against the restaurant where I intended to enter. I didn’t know him. But when he looked up, there was something about his eyes… As if he’d recognized me.
I smiled and spoke to him, just a greeting in passing. Everyone matters in my world, even the man siting against the wall.
During the meeting, I kept remembering his eyes.
As we finished our meeting, I asked the waitress if I could have a cup of coffee and a sandwich to go. She brought it in a white paper bag, and I left the cafe. The man had moved a bit further from the door, and he was knelt down on one knee, instead of seated by the wall, but he was still there. I walked up to him and offered him the bag with the sandwich and the coffee.
He smiled and said, “I thought I recognized you.”
The voice brought back a thousand memories as I sorted through the sudden recognition, trying to remember exactly where I’d known him from. It was there, at the back of my mind, but I still couldn’t place him.
I smiled, “I know the voice, and I recognize you as someone I know, but could you refresh my memory?”
“Mel,” he nodded.
“From the bank?” I asked, still needing confirmation.
“I helped you with a business loan. You had the prettiest little girls…” His voice trailed off and I watched the light disappear from his eyes.
“You had a daughter about the same age?” I asked to confirm.
“Her name was Betsy. She was just seven years old when they had the wreck…” He answered. “My wife and my little girl were killed by a drunk driver.”
I knew I was running out of time, I had another meeting. But his words explained his predicament, and I wanted to help him through the pain.
“Do you live near here?” I asked, hoping this wasn’t his residence. Homelessness was never a benefit, but I suspected he had no where else to go.
“I’m here most days…” He answered.
“I have another meeting near here, and then I’m free for a while this afternoon.” I began an explanation. “Eat your lunch, and I’ll be back here later and buy you dinner?”
He nodded and sat down against the base of the building where the sunlight warmed him.
“I’ll be waiting,” he opened the bag as I turned to leave.
“I’ll be back, Mel.”
As I drove away, I prayed for answers, solutions, and ideas. I wanted to help him. I needed to offer him something. He’d been kind, helpful, and generous, when I needed help. The loan he’d helped me to obtain had made a huge difference in my business back then, and now. It had been the basis for developing the business I had built.
When I returned a few hours later, he looked a bit more put together, perhaps cleaner? I parked the truck again and walked across the sidewalk to where he sat. “Are you hungry?” I asked.
“I am,” his answer was soft. He smiled. He stood up and we walked together into the diner. He nodded politely to the waitress, and she nodded in return before directing us to a table near the front window. We sat down and she brought us coffee and water.
He drank both, then ordered off the all-day breakfast menu. I ordered the same, and he told me about losing his wife and little girl. I asked about his family, and he reminded me that his parents had long since passed, and his in-laws had never been close. Grief had stolen his life from him, and now… he existed as best he could, but he wanted more.
I had little to offer other than encouragement. I gave him a business card, with my number and told him to call me.
It was several months later when I heard from him again.
He had found a place to live, a job, and he was working hard to take back his life. I talked to him a few days back. He’s doing quite well, and he reminded me that seeing me had made a difference. I had reminded him that people do care.
I’m relevant. He’s relevant. YOU are relevant. People do care.
Please visit my site at JanVerhoeff.com and let’s tell your story. Because you matter.