Today, I am old.

Come on in!

 

Have a cupcake!

(It’s a party, so ignore the calories.)

 

I am OLD today!!

Well, I’ve kind of been old since birth, but today I am officially a year older!

This year, my one-year-older reflections turned toward the wealth of experiences I’ve been blessed with in the course of this short life.

Which got me thinking about all the people who have shaped my life.

Certainly this list is very long. It is filled, of course, with family and friends who have walked with me through many years.

My life has been substantially shaped by writers, as well – of books, and of music.

But this list is also populated with people whom I met very briefly, or knew for very short times. There are many people whose names I don’t even know who have provided truly transformative impacts on who I am.

It really made me think about what effect we have in the world – NEVER buy the lie that you aren’t making a difference, or that what you do or who you are don’t matter!

For example:

Two women came to mind who I met when I was working at a Crisis Pregnancy Center.

Between them, they absolutely transformed my views on pro-life / pro-choice and abortion in the United States. And that transformed how I had to live, and my approach to politics, my Christianity, and how I understood my responsibilities in this world. They had this impact at some of the toughest, most vulnerable moments of their own lives, and they’ll probably never even know it.

I also thought of a waiter I met in the Dominican Republic.

I’m guessing he was 2e. He spoke three languages, and was going to night school to master a fourth. We discussed opportunity, hard work, and success. And I was humbled. I knew that I was not, and would never be his equal, even if I worked as hard as he did.

And of the rock star who took the time to encourage a gangly little girl.

I was a tall, skinny kid. REALLY tall and skinny.

Because I had a supportive family, and a great father, I didn’t grow up with horrible self esteem, but no one escapes adolescence without a little fragility, now do we?

One day, I was perhaps 12? I went to a concert, and stood in line afterwards to get a favourite singer’s autograph. He paused in the middle of the chaos and said (as 10,000 people said to me per day), “Hey, you’re tall!” I imagine I shrugged, or wrinkled my nose or something as I admitted the undeniable.

And he said “I just love that! My wife is really tall too. Tall women are just the most beautiful! Be proud of being a beautiful, tall woman. “

A small thing? Yeah. But I remember it to this day.

Full circle.

Interestingly, many years later, I stood with a very handsome, charming friend of mine – the kind of guy that inspires swooning in women from 1 to 92 – and watched him provide that exact same kind of encouragement to another gangly young girl.  🙂

I thought of two young women I knew briefly, professional strippers,

who transformed my understanding of the sex industry, of judgement, and of the reality that more-women-than-not live – a reality that I, in the privilege I enjoyed from birth,  could never, ever have understood if these two women had not had the generosity to look beyond that privilege and ignorance, and view me as worthy of education and friendship.

And an Ethiopian woman who called me sister.

Quite a few of my most vivid memories come from a brief stay in Ethiopia. One of them was of meeting a meter reader, or parking cop, or some-job-I-never-quite-caught-hold-of, on a sidewalk in Addis Ababa.

Not surprisingly in Ethiopia, she picked out the 6’3″ glowing-white girl as a foreigner and swooped over to engage me in a shockingly energetic (most Ethiopians I had met to that time were fairly quiet, gentle people) conversation about … everything.

Politics, challenges, culture, roles, international  understanding, goals, dreams … it was like being abducted by a whirlwind liberal arts education.

Finally, it was time to say goodbye, and she asked me not to forget her, ‘Because we are sisters, you know!’

Yeah.

 

Image: memorial candle being lit.I know the names of only three of these people but they live vividly in my memory, and the brief moments with them have shaped my life since.

And these are only a small selection of the near-strangers who have helped to shape me.

NEVER buy the lie that you aren’t making a difference, or that what you do or who you are doesn’t matter!

 

Thanks for joining my party!!

Have another cupcake, or take a fruit tart with you, for the road.

(They are virtual, so every glorious piece of that fruit is tree-ripened-sweet despite the January chill!)

Be well

 

 

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