Once in a while, there seems to a a series of events or encounters that sparks a theme or causes a thought to resonate through your daily life. At first you think it’s all coincidental, but then it slowly starts to dawn on you that there may be something more going on, something you need to pay attention to. That’s how it was for me last week–the universe was sending me a message on repeat, one that couldn’t be ignored, and I finally realized it was because it was meant to be shared. Literally.
Here’s how it all happened: The first event was the letter. A person I know (who wishes to remain anonymous) received a thoughtful, eloquent letter thanking him for service upon his retirement, and I was struck by how much this simple letter of appreciation moved him. He’s the kind of guy who firmly believes that a job well done is its own reward, that pride is a dangerous thing, and that everyone should try their hardest simply because it’s the right thing to do, and not because you wish to be praised for it. Yet, he was touched and grateful to be recognized, and the note lifted his spirits and made him feel reassured that he had accomplished something. I was a little surprised and also moved at how much the letter meant to him, because his reaction was so different from his usual behavior, but the evidence was clear: it felt good to be acknowledged.
Then, on Tuesday, two of the producers of the movie Beasts of the Southern Wild came to visit WRBH in order to show homage to their favorite reader, Constance McEneny. They love the station and are devoted listeners, having first learned about it through a chance shared dinner with Natalia in 2009. (Except we know this was all meant to be, right?) Josh and Dan were excited and awestruck in Constance’s presence, listening respectfully to her stories of becoming a reader and her assignments through the years, and giving her their whole attention. Now we all know Constance has plenty of fans, but it was delightful all the same to see her hold court with these two charming admirers, and witnessing her pleasure at their appreciation was a wonderful thing.
The third event occurred on Wednesday, when the winners of the first WRBH High School poetry contest, a group of students from KIPP Renaissance School, came to the station to record their poetry for later broadcast. Under the tutelage of teacher Joella Fink, the sophomores submitted their very personal and meaningful poetry to be dissected and evaluated, an act that requires a certain amount of courage and hope mixed with fear. Yet these talented teenagers not only were brave enough to share their innermost thoughts with their teacher and those of us at the station, they agreed to read them aloud into a microphone so that ALL of our listeners could hear these poems. Upon arrival at WRBH, they were excited but also anxious–even the coolest ones were a little unnerved by the prospect of having to perform in front of their teacher, their peers, and a group of helpful strangers. As I watched them awaiting their turns in the studio, the universe began sending its message to me again. I became of aware of how these children relaxed and bloomed as Ms. Fink inspired them to do their best, as Natalia offered coaching and moral support, and as engineer Wayne Holmes gently instructed them on the logistics of speaking clearly and correctly into the equipment, while offering encouragement and praise for their writing. “See how important this is?” the universe whispered. “Everyone needs to feel valued, to be appreciated, to feel worthy.”
So, here’s the message for you, conveyed to me courtesy of the universe: this week, tell someone how much they are appreciated. Find something, ANYTHING, they do well and give them positive feedback. It won’t take much time, and the payoff will be extraordinary in light of how much it will mean to the lucky recipient. And if you can’t think of anything, I’ll even help you if you come into the station this week:
Tell Tim how remarkable it is that he can juggle recording the volunteers, editing their readings, while simultaneously collecting news stories via the internet, making small talk and figuring out how to solve the problems when the iPads go wonky at work, along with being a new dad and the chief cook at home.
Tell Natalia that it’s downright amazing how well she can focus and think outside the box when it comes to the always uncertain means of obtaining money to keep the station afloat, despite the relentless series of curveballs life has chosen to throw at her lately.
Let Rachel know she’s truly an organizational whiz and a technological savant. Really, anybody who can manage to pull off the WRBH golf tournament every year without a hitch (or a panic attack) has got to have genius skills and nerves of steel.
Tell Wayne how much you appreciate his kindness and calm, easygoing manner. I know quite a few volunteers (along with the KIPP students) who have left the station feeling good about their time spent reading, because Wayne calmed their fears.
Thank Abraham for being willing to take on so many shifts when Tim was out, and handle them without getting flustered or cranky. Also, tell him how awesome looking that hinge tattoo on his elbow is.
And to all of you cheerful, industrious, intelligent, funny and wonderful volunteers, here’s a note of thanks: you make us happy, you are doing good things for others, and we are so grateful. And we’ll do our best to let you know that.