We are not naturally encouragers.
Do something well, and few notice.
Make a mistake, and you’ll hear all about it.
So when we do receive a good word, a positive note, an atta-boy, it rises our spirits. And as I and others have said, when we feel better, we do better. We want to be better.
Lately, from both strangers and friends, kind words have brightened my days.
Let’s start with my Jim Jung, one of the nicest and brightest people on Kauai.
Jim heard that my wife and I were planning a trip to Ireland and there, I would be running the Dingle Marathon. The other day, he sent a card my way that showed a map of the Dingle Marathon course, shared the Irish Blessing, had a depiction of a runner, and had this message: “May the Luck of the Irish be with thee, Bill Buley, as you conquer The Dingle Peninsula.”
I smiled when I read that and placed the card on our living room table. How many people would take the time to create a card to wish someone well in an upcoming race?
It didn’t just lift my spirits. It made me determined to do well. It made me refocus my training to be ready to run 26.2 miles in Ireland. Suddenly, I was looking forward to this trip more than ever. Doubts were replaced by hopes.
Such a note is gift. Free to give, priceless in what it means to the person on the receiving end, and what it can do for them.
My good friend Joe Frisinger recently made my day when he left a message on my phone at work, telling me what a nice job I had done with pictures and story covering the state canoe races in Hanalei. You know, I had done my best in the three hours I was there. Talked to lots of people. Took lots of pictures. I thought it came out pretty good. But to have just one person call to say, good job, it mattered.
The other day, this email came from a woman, Lanette, who had read our coverage of the change of command ceremony at the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Friday: “I just read subject article and want to commend the writer of it. It was beautifully written filled with down-home feelings and brought back many happy memories growing up in Kekaha.”
I’ve been blessed of late with good words from people I’ve never met.
Recently, I was running along the highway near the Lihue Airport, trying to keep up a strong pace, when I heard a man shout, “You’re killing it, bro!” I looked over and saw him wave as he passed by.
Now, he could have been like 99 percent of the drivers out there and gone on his way and paid little attention to the man running on the side of the road. And certainly, runners don’t expect people to honk, wave and yell accolades every time we’re pounding out some miles. But when something like that happens, it’s refreshing and your stride picks up just a little faster and taller.
Not long ago, in the midst of a 13-mile run, a woman on a bike rode up alongside me. She had passed me earlier and gave me a little wave. This time, she slowed, turned and said, “Sir, you are an inspiration!”
Wow. How many times do you hear that you’re an inspiration? And from a person I had never seen before. It’s hard to imagine that my running inspired anyone. I wasn’t even sure how to take it. A compliment is surely what she meant. But I couldn’t help but think it was because she saw an old man out there, gasping for breath, soaked in sweat and charging onward as fast as he could. No matter. That this person thought to say something encouraging was enough. It’s rare when we encourage others that we know and love, so to hear such good words from a stranger brought a smile to my face. Yes, a good day.
And then, there was a the cashier at the Kapaa store.
She looked at me and said, “You’re the runner.”
That was it.
That was enough.
This person must have noticed me on some of those mornings when I jogged through Kapaa to get to the ocean path. She didn’t have to say anything that day I bought something. She could have sent me on my way without a word. But she didn’t. With just a few words, she brightened my day. And you know what else? It made me proud. Yes, I’m the runner. I like that.
We have so many opportunities to encourage others throughout a day. Sadly, we let most of them pass. I think it’s because we don’t often hear encouraging words, so we don’t easily share them.
But I can tell you, from experience, all it takes is a card, a shout, a passing comment, a wave, a phone call, an email, and we can lift the spirits of those around us. We can let them know they should be proud of who they are, what they do and that we’re glad they’re here.
So Jim, and Joe and Lanette, and you strangers in cars and on bikes and in stores, thank you for the good words. Keep it up. Let there be more like you.
And by the way, as for that Irish Blessing Jim Jung sent my way, it seems fitting to share it, so here it is:
May the road rise to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
The rains fall soft upon your fields,
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the Palm of His Hand.
Bill Buley is editor-in-chief of The Garden Island. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org