by Craig Ruvere
Handing out compliments has never been some people’s forte. Many find it difficult to truly express sentiments of praise or encouragement, which is puzzling to me given how easily society points out our faults.
But just like flowers need water and sunlight to grow healthy and strong, humans require a little positive reinforcement every now and then to help motivate them through this ever complicated world. Sounds easy enough, right? Well, we all know the reality - anything that sounds easy, usually isn’t.
Anyone can walk around saying “good job” or “you look great” with little sincerity to back up their statements. But what I’m talking about is more at the root of our emotions. Digging deep down into our soul and finally telling those around us just how much they're valued in our lives.
We always think we’ll have more time to lose weight or get a new job or even tell those around us how we feel. But the sad reality is that any one of our lives could end in a heartbeat – leaving us to forever wonder if those unspoken words we feel so awkward saying out loud were ever truly understood.
Take my grandfather for instance. He was a quiet man, who never attended college yet was extremely intelligent, incredibly well versed and amazingly ingenuitive. He was a good provider for his family, a patriarch who was revered and even had a hidden sense of humor, which he let everyone see now and then. And though this quiet man was never truly able to show his emotions to those around him, at times he was able to get his message across.
I remember back in 1997, on my 22 birthday, besides the appropriate birthday card and a $20 bill from my grandparents, I found something more. There inside was a sheet of paper neatly folded and tucked behind the card. As avid members of the local AARP Chapter, my grandparents were assigned the following task: “Recently it was suggested that to bridge the generation gap between the older and younger Americans, we (the older Americans) should write letters to their children and grandchildren. So, we have chosen you as the first recipient of messages from your elders.”
It was a one-page letter on AARP stationary, double-spaced and no doubt typed by my grandmother who was prolific in her use of the now antiquated typewriter. It was a letter of encouragement, of praise, but most of all support for the future. Upon my first read, it became clear to me where some of my writing ability stemmed from, as my grandfather’s words were concise, poignant and utterly sincere.
He spoke about memories, survival and “a pleasant child with an ever ready smile.” He remembered creativity, laughter and accomplishments I myself had forgotten about. He believed in my hopes and my dreams - urging me to “have patience and determination, and above all never, never lose the ambition to try harder and to go further.”
It impressed me that by simply living, I managed to have such a profound effect on him. Though I never doubted his affection for me, I was truly taken back by how much of my life had touched his - creating cherished memories which made him proud enough to write them down.
I still have that special message tucked safely away in a drawer. From time to time when I need a little encouragement, I open up that letter my grandfather composed and gain a sense of where I’ve been, who I am and where I still need to go. The fact that someone took the time to immortalize those words on paper is a forever reminder of how much our lives truly mean to those around us.
Today, our forms of communication have changed drastically from just ten years ago. From cell phones to emails, text messaging to e-cards, dropping a letter in the mailbox seems like something only the early settlers did.
And while I realize the cost of a stamp has increased in recent years, it’s an unexpected way to touch the lives of someone special. Don’t let people try and guess how invaluable they are in your life. Spend the 46 cents and write a letter to someone who’s inspired you, supported you or just been there to listen when no one else was.
At first the idea might seem awkward or uncomfortable, but that one simple gesture will be cherished for a lifetime.
Visit Craig's website for more inspiration at The View from Here