I Am the Product of Thousands Who Cared

Years ago, during the heyday of time-management workshops and personal planning binders, I was recruited by Day-Timer to teach and speak. During workshops, people would often approach me and proudly show me how they had their planning binders set up to help them live more productively. Many would ask if I would show them my planner. I have to admit, that back then, working with my planner was actually a hobby. I had sections set up for all my major interests—astronomical facts, mathematical and scientific formulas, favorite poems the quotes, etc. I had a section that contained my life vision, mission statement, and personal values. My planner also contained my personal journal.

One day, I decided to list the names of people who had influenced my life for good in my journal. As my list grew, I realized how many people had contributed to the quality of my life. (I later decided to write personal notes to those who were still alive and thank them for their contributions to my life.)

Months later, I revisited that list and sat in contemplation. I started to realize that there were countless other people—not on my list—who had contributed to my life and shaped the person I had become. My thoughts drifted to elementary school.

I thought of the cooks who prepared school lunch. I remembered walking to school and smelling lunch being prepared. When the scents of my favorite dishes wafted by, it added anticipation and joy to my days.

I thought of the school crossing guard—a big, friendly man who made sure we all got across a major street safely. (In 4th grade I learned that he was a WWII veteran who still carried shrapnel in his body. My respect for “Mr. Day” increased.)

I thought of my early trips to the school library which was filled with hundreds of colorful books on numerous subjects just waiting to be explored. I realized that authors had dedicated portions of their lives to research and write each of those books, and I was a beneficiary of their work! The wonderful smell of that library still lingers in my memory.

I remember the older students teaching me how to play the bass when I was chosen to be in the school orchestra.

I thought of the teachers who offered summer programs on art and science that I always signed up for.

As I continued to consider the contributions others had made to my life, the memories multiplied until I couldn’t keep track of them.

I thought to myself, “Where would I be today and what would I have become without the countless contributions—large and small, noticed and not—of those countless people who had crossed my life path?”

Since that quiet time with my journal all those years ago, I have tried to be more aware of how intricately the “thread” of my life is woven into the overall tapestry of the human story. I often feel a deep sense of gratitude for the countless contributions others have made to my life—and I silently hope that my contributions have made a difference in the lives of my fellow beings.