I don’t know how many have considered the power of one – person, place or thing – to influence, or in my case, totally salvage my life. It’s not something that you can easily point to and say, “Yes, that’s where it happened!” But, you often can remember the people involved.
Looking back, I remember a handful of unrelated – but dedicated individuals – who, during times of trouble, helped me see the bigger picture.
As a 27-year-old, that still hadn’t found his calling, it was with growing elation, I applied (barely completing a two-hour general knowledge exam) and was accepted into the six-month training program of a “Fortune 100” corporation. However, the hard part followed.
- The typical person in my class was a recent university graduate; I’d been in the workforce for four years.
- They picked up on things and learned fast; I had nothing but questions.
- They seem brilliant; I felt stupid.
But, I had something they didn’t have – desperation! With a young family to support, this had to work.
Eventually, the time arrived. As the training centre’s clock ticked long into the evening, I tried to absorb the previous six months of learning for the morning’s final exam. Thoughts of failure engulfed me. Worry replaced sleep. Panic struck; I was lost. Still, I remembered president Lincoln confessing, “I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction I had nowhere else to go.” I prayed.
Just then, a man happened to walk in and casually asked how I was doing. That did it! I unloaded all my bleak prospects onto this poor chap. After patiently listening, he said, “You know, whenever I’m faced with a similar situation, I concentrate on the review questions… they’re there for a reason, right?”
Just then the clouds lifted… that’s it! With renewed heart, I took his advice and passed the exam – beginning a secure, financially thriving, 25-year career. All because someone cared.
It reminds me of the Starfish story, by Loren Eisley, about a man who was walking along the beach when he noticed a boy gently picking up starfish and throwing them back into the ocean, knowing they would otherwise die. The man explained to the boy that, with miles of beach and hundreds of stranded starfish, there was no way he could make a difference. After listening politely, the boy threw another starfish back into the sea, saying, “I made a difference with that one.”
So, what’s the commonality behind people like these? I learned it’s love – good people who are true to their calling.
“Away you go sailin’/ In a race among the ruins/
If you plan to face tomorrow/ Do it soon”
~ Race Among the Ruins by Gordon Lightfoot
You know, there are lots of things in this world that make people like me lose faith sometimes. I just don’t want to be the cause of it. If someone cared what I think about the “power of one”, I’d say be that difference and see how you feel.
Photo by Gerd Altmann from pixabay
First published at Fred Parry
Guest Author Bio
Fred Parry lives in Southern Ontario. He is a lover of people and a collector of stories, music, wisdom, and grandchildren. His newspaper column, Music in Me, can be found in ‘The New Hamburg Independent’ Metroland Media. His book, ‘The Music In Me’ (2013) Friesen Press is Available from Amazon and Indigo / Chapters.
Blog / Website: www.fredparry.ca