In September, a friend of mine expanded his DJ/karaoke business to a local establishment in the Quincy area. Before his first Wednesday night, he contacted a bunch of friends and asked us to come down and support him. It’s been fourteen years since I was in a band, so I didn’t need a lot of arm twisting to show up, especially after my experience in Disney World last February.
It was a large crowd of people that showed up that first night and we had so much fun, that we have been going back just about every Wednesday night since. One night in October, the tavern was packed full of people. It was a great crowd for the middle of the week and as usual, Bill called me up early to sing a couple of songs to warm up the crowd. I was having fun and I even let Bill pick songs at random to see if I could perform them without knowing what the song was before I grabbed the microphone.
During the course of the evening as I was walking back to our table after performing a song, I lost track of the waitress and wanted to refill my glass of Coke. So I grabbed my empty glass, walked up to the bar and asked the bartender for a refill. As I was standing there waiting for the bartender to bring back my drink, I felt a finger tapping me on my shoulder.
Thinking it was one of my friends who needed a drink as well, I turned to see what they wanted me to get for them. Standing two feet behind me was a guy I had never met before who was using his hand to wave me closer to him so he could tell me something. It was loud, so I leaned in and turned my ear so I could hear him. As I did, he placed his hand on my shoulder and said, “You need to keep singing. Sing to your kids, your wife, your friends, sing here, but just keep singing! I can see you have so much fun when you are up there and the joy you exude when you are singing touches all of us. It gives me great joy just to watch you.”
I was blown away at what he had just said to me and I turned and said, “Thank you” into his ear and then I shook his hand. But as he walked away from me and went back to his table, I realized that I was completely dumfounded. Honestly, other than saying thank you, what do you say to someone who goes out of their way to say such a kind thing to you?!
I was at a loss for words and even though my friends and acquaintances said kind things to me during the course of the night, I was already floating on cloud nine because of what a complete stranger had to say about my ability. He had no reason what-so-ever to seek me out and say something so nice but I am grateful that he did because he gave me a gift that night; the gift of thoughtfulness.
Every day I am a victim of my own tunnel vision. I see what is critical for me to get accomplished throughout the course of my day and I do it. I work as hard as I can to be the best employer, employee, father, husband, friend, community member and writer. I get so lost in my own little world and in my own personal obligations that I sometimes forget to see the beauty in the world around me. And because of that, I miss the opportunity to share my own random acts of kindness with the people I come in contact with on a daily basis.
It only takes a moment to have a profound impact on someone’s life. There is nothing I can say to the random stranger who made my day, and in fact, made my whole week with his simple act of kindness. But the real lesson is that actions speak louder than words. Whether it is a note for a friend, a kind word to a stranger, or a phone call to someone I haven’t spoken to in a while, the true result of compassion is taking a few moments of my precious time and sharing it with the people who touch my life.