We were sitting at the table like we usually do, menus in hand, figuring out what to order, even though none of was particularly hungry. My friend was telling his daughter about passion – how she should figure out what makes her heart sing, the way Steve Jobs encouraged the Stanford graduating class to do the same in his famous commencement speech.
There was a man at the next table, casually drinking lager, not indicating his interest but apparently listening to every word of advice we were uttering. Finally, he looked in our direction and said, “Now you have me inspired to go out and do something too.”
That’s how the conversation began – our table neighbor saying we had inspired him. But when he started sharing his experiences, it was evident that he’s been inspired for a long time now. He told us about spending several years in various countries in Africa, about the work he does here in the US to prepare people who want to go overseas to make a difference, and the work he does there to provide opportunities for people to improve their lives. And he told us about his wife – she is a journalist and author who uses her writing to bring awareness and change to social issues. Of course, it being 2016, I looked her up on Twitter and started following her page immediately. Her accomplishments and her connections are as impressive as you can imagine. But the best thing seems to be that these are people who don’t just want to do good – they actually do it.
These aren’t people who need to be inspired to do something. They’ve done it. They’re doing it. But who knows, maybe at 5:30 on that Friday afternoon, a long, long way from home, this man needed a little reminder and maybe he needed to hear what we had to say. Or maybe we needed to hear from him.
Random encounter? Of course not. God puts people in our way to encourage us, to validate us, to motivate us. I’m glad that this time, we’d decided to skip the nonsense talk about politics and entertainment and instead talk about passion and drive. I’m glad our neighbor eavesdropped then took it one step further to engage us. Because while he thought that we were inspiring him, he was also inspiring us.
Who knows what happens next. Maybe it will be you starting a similar conversation with someone who needs to be inspired too.
That was definitely one of the highlights of last week. What was yours?
If you enjoy my writing and would like to support my passion, please visit my Amazon author page to check out my latest book, It's Complicated: Short Stories About Long Relationships