“People who get stuff done maintain a high commitment to themselves…”
It was a young woman in Mumbai reading from her private journal. She journals every day and decided to share an entry with me. She had quoted one of my blog posts in her journal.
I was deeply moved.
There I was, sitting on a bench in Mumbai, India, with a total stranger who’s been reading my posts for months. No, not another white guy from America. An Indian woman who will have an arranged marriage, who’s never left India, who’s working hard to find her way in her vastly different world. And words I thought would fall victim the ephemeral nature of the web — read and forgotten a day later! — actually became memorialized in the form of her paper journal.
A couple months ago I emailed a teacher from my middle school out of the blue and concluded by saying, “One of the benefits of teaching, it seems to me, is you really don’t know how many people you are touching.” Great teachers always get teary eyed when a former student returns, 10 years later, and says, “Mr. Johnson, you have no idea how frequently I think back to your advice offered in 6th grade history.”
Similarly, when you publish something on the web you have no idea who it will touch. Sometimes you’ll never know. It makes those rare moments when you do find out all the more special.
But it’s more special not to know how far your words may carry. It lets your mind run wild. This is probably the spirit which drives movements like the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation — your random nicety could have made someone’s day, and it makes your day to know that possibility merely exists.