David is the main character in my Shepherd’s Chronicles Trilogy. For those of you that have not yet had the chance to read The Promise or The Rules, the first two books of the series, David strikes out to keep a promise and in doing so, travels the country and interacts with others, helping them find their way back to their path in life. His actions support one of the major themes of the books, that the true measure of a man in not in his worldly possessions but in the number of lives he touches in a positive way, the number of people he lifts up.
When I get the chance to talk about my writing, I always urge the listeners to take on lifting others up as a practice in their own lives. It may sound like a big deal but in reality, it’s easier than it sounds. Let me give you one example.
As many of you who follow me on Facebook know, I do a lot of my writing at Panera’s on Niagara Falls Blvd, pretty much at the same table each visit. There is a regular crew of customers that I have gotten to know and enjoy. There is one guy who comes in often that I rarely get to interact with. Sometimes he comes in alone and every once in a while he comes in with a young man who is both physically and mentally challenged.
A few mornings back, he came in alone and sat near my table. I went over to him and introduced myself. After telling me his name was Ron, I asked, “Do you mind if I ask about the your occasional breakfast companion. I apologize if you think I am being too nosey but I am just curious.”
Ron beamed as he told me about his son Anthony, how he is 26 years old and is working hard to make his own way in the world. His pride in his son was clear. I asked Ron if he would mind introducing Anthony to me next time we were all here. He assured me he would.
A few days later, Ron and Anthony came into Panera’s and they came right over to my table. Ron introduced his son to me and then left us alone while he ordered their breakfast. Anthony and I shook hands and we got to know each other. We talked about what he likes for breakfast and how much he enjoys coming out with his dad. His love for his father was obvious. I told him how nice it was to meet him. Our conversation was brief. I watched him turn and walk to his father’s table, struggling as he does to move with a regular gait, kind of dragging his one leg behind him as he crosses the room.
After finishing their meal, Ron and Anthony cleared their dishes and headed for the door. Ron got there first and held the door for his son. As Anthony approached the threshold, he turned, smiled, waved and said “bye-bye” and limped away. It occurred to me that in all his visits, it was the first time I had seen Anthony smile.
I didn’t do much. I didn’t change the world. My total investment in time was less than five minutes. My physical investment was walking six feet to introduce my self to Ron. In the big picture, not much changed for me or anyone else in that restaurant, but for one young man, he felt a part of a world he was always struggling to keep up with, appreciated for who he is, proud to be a part of his father’s world and accepted as one of the crowd. The smile he shared was as genuine a smile as I had ever seen and he made my day as much as I had made his.
Yes, it’s easier than it sounds. Try it for yourself. Make a difference, reach out, be an agent of change, care. You will discover that the joy you give others will come back to you in ways you never imagined. Who among us couldn’t stand a little extra joy in our lives?