It isn’t getting any easier to write about giving thanks. Each encounter with the friends who kept my little ship afloat makes the picture brighter, sweeter, and closer, closer, closer to the heart.
Thursday, when I took my phone out of my coat pocket, the dialer already displayed a number – 8. Infinity, reciprocity, the mathematician’s answer to yin and yang. The phone had matched that number to a single name – the friend who helped me start my career. The friend who I discovered to be a shared (and much loved) acquaintance between me and two women I met for the very first time on Wednesday.
I dialed her number, not yet sure what the purpose of the call would be. (When you get a sign like this, you don’t screw around – you make the call.) Surprised to hear from me, my friend listened kindly to the tale of unexpected meetings and magical numbers. “I don’t believe in chance,” she said matter-of-factly. I knew she didn’t.
As my friend excitedly detailed her volunteer work – filling shoeboxes with everything from notebooks to toys, to be distributed to millions of needy children in countries around the world – her happiness glowed right through the phone. Her purpose, her fulfillment, her joy in having a way to make her love for children real, filled me with happiness, as well. “You have millions of kids now,” I said.
At last, I realized the true purpose of the call. “I just want you to know, in case I haven’t said it enough before, how much I appreciate you helping me get started.” “I did?” she answered. “I guess I don’t remember.” I reminded her of each step where her friendship had opened a door along my path. “It’s because of you, I found a way I could support and take care of myself,” I told her. “I didn’t ever believe I would be able to do that.”
The help my friend gives all her new children far outshines, in her eyes, any favor she did me – that much is beautifully, necessarily clear. No reason to make a big deal out of it. But the fact remains: her ordinary generosity started my ball rolling – and to me, it is a very, very big deal.
You can’t anticipate the outcome of the good you do. That is why you have to do any little bit you feel you can. You just never know.