I’m not a big believer in New Year’s resolutions. I see no reason that my commitment to eating better or exercising will have more weight today than on any other day of the year. Nevertheless, today I find myself making a commitment to continue something I have just recently started: thanking people for the unintended ripples that touch my life.
At times. we set out to make a positive difference in another person’s life – like volunteering to delivery food to the needy or to sit for an hour and read to an elderly person who no longer can. More often than not, we receive thanks directly for those acts, and rightly so. But there is another time, often overlooked, when I have decided to reach out and express my gratitude. These are when people did not set out to do something to help me, or at least not in the way that resulted, but their acts left positive ripples spreading out and those ripples crossed my path. These are the acts I have decided to acknowledge.
Sometimes, I feel a little silly doing it. A couple days ago, I sent a letter to a famous author letting him know that his success as a cross-genre author provided me with encouragement to keep going during a difficult time. I mailed the letter to the post office box on his website, assuming he will probably never see it. But that doesn’t matter. He did something that helped me, and I have thanked him for it.
Today, I came across a short piece containing some details improbably close to an event in my own life. I’d never met the woman who wrote it or even heard of her before. But I sent her a private message relaying my story and thanking her for the perspective her piece gave me, even though it wasn’t the purpose for which she wrote it.
I don’t expect to be thanked for writing thank you notes, nor am I touting myself as a “better” person for undertaking this odd endeavor. Rather, doing this reminds me that everything we do affects other people, whether we intend it to or not. Most of the time, we never see the ripples we leave behind nor their effects on our fellow travelers. But that doesn’t make them less meaningful. So for the coming year and hopefully beyond, I will pause when I notice a ripple in my path and thank the source for sending it my way.