In a moment of last night’s journal writing lucidity, I decided to write letters this holiday season to all the people in my life who have made a positive impact, to all my loved ones, and to anyone I may have unresolved issues with, no matter how minor. If I did only have 6 months left, I would let the people around me know how much they mean to me. I would hold nothing back, so why wait?
Although Facebook has worked wonders to help find long lost camp friends, there are cases of people I have no idea how to contact. I don’t have an address for the Chinese man who used to sell me delicious flat bread on Bao Chu Lu, nor do I have an address for some of the teachers that inspired me, but I will still write them letters. There are also cases where the people (or dog) I love have passed away, but I can still let them know how they influenced and changed my life.
It doesn’t matter how small or seemingly insignificant an act of kindness was, I will still write a letter. Think of all the people who have touched your life. All the people who helped you or gave you a hug, all the people who listened or took a chance on you. I have a strong feeling that I’m going to be living a long time, and I already do make an effort to let the people around me know I care, but I can do better.
There are numerous instances of how someone else’s words impacted my life, but I can think of three in particular.
- The first was in the summer before my freshman year of high school. Like many girls my age, I worried about fitting in and had a difficult first year at my new school. One girl’s initiative and kindness changed everything. I was to leave camp early to try out for volleyball, and the night before I left, my camp counselor asked to see me. She led me to a dark room, and then turned on the lights. Ashleigh, my closest camp friend, and all the other girls from our floor were there, and posted on all corners of the wall were signs from the girls saying how much they would miss me. No one had ever done anything like that for me, and Ashleigh had organized it. I went back to school that year, confident in who I was, and I know that it was that ‘small’ action that tipped the scales and gave me the jump start I needed.
- When my best friend, Bennett, and I were beginning our friendship our freshman year of high school, she made me my first mixed tape. I had made mixed tapes for so many people, but no one had ever taken the time to make one for me. I remember feeling so special. I still have it, Indigo Girls songs and all.
- My students in Ningyuan (宁远) filled five class books (sort of like a yearbook) full of heartfelt wishes and appreciation for me at the end of my year teaching at Yi Zhong (一中). Every time I look at their letters, I get teary, knowing their smiles will always be in my heart.
In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I give and will continue to give thanks to all the people in my life and for all the kindness others have bestowed upon me. I’ve started my list, and I already have over a 100 people to write, so I best get going!