What We Do Affects Everyone

“Be the change you want to see in the world.” Ghandi canstockphoto3308054

A couple years back, there was a fascinating TV series titled "Touch". It was about an autistic boy who could visualize events in the future.

The premise was everything in the world is connected by a network of events - part of a never-ending sequence - which eventually impact many people, sometimes in very significant ways.

The visual used to depict this was a web of strings extending around the world, connecting people, events and life dramas.

I witnessed a mini version of this just the other day in a local hardware store – one of the larger, chain stores; you know the ones, where it’s sometimes hard to find a store associate to help you.

There was a young man standing in front of a towering stack of pipes, fittings, connectors, collars and other miscellaneous plumbing equipment looking lost and confused.  He was obviously out of his element, standing all by himself in the middle of the aisle looking diminutive and befuddled.  He slowly wandered up and down the aisle, scratching his head, cupping his chin in his hand, shaking his head, glancing at a list in his hand from time to time.

About the time the young man was looking like he was going to give up, a middle-aged man came whizzing around the corner, quickly traversing the aisle picking up a pipe here, an elbow joint there, obviously knowing exactly what he needed and where it was.  He was on a mission and he knew what it would take to accomplish it.

He glanced at the young man and said, "Hi" as he breezed by him, but didn’t miss a beat as he continued on his quest for plumbing gold.

Yet, something must have triggered a response.  Perhaps he had been that young man at one point in his life, unsure of himself, not knowing what he was doing, needing some help.  Maybe he was in the service industry so he could spot someone with questions.  Or, maybe he was just naturally empathic.

Whatever the reason, he stopped mid-stride, turned to the young man, focused on him and asked, “Do you need some help?”

The younger man’s eyes were glazed over as they slowly focused on the older man’s gaze, I swear you could see them begin to clear up.  A smile formed and he said, “Yes, I really do.”  He then began to explain what he was trying to do.  The older man began to lead him from point to point, showing him various options; he postponed his mission to help someone else with theirs.  I left the scene feeling that the younger man was in good hands.

But, that wasn’t the end of it.

As I continued my shopping, a few minutes later I came around a corner and there was the same young man, only this time he was apparently in his element; electronics.  I overheard him talking with another shopper who was asking him questions about an electronics project. The young man was obviously either an expert or a very talented amateur.

He was passing on his knowledge to the other shopper, who was as confused by electronics as the young man had been by plumbing.

I left that store feeling pretty darned good about humanity.  Who’s to say how many people were impacted by the actions I saw?  I saw at least three people in that store impacted and I felt great, so that was four.

Who knows how many other good deeds were “paid forward” as a result of those I saw; or for that matter, how many had occurred before them?  For all I know some world leader somewhere made a judicious decision that, if you could follow the string, led right back to what I witnessed.

My point is, if you stop and think about the concept, it makes everything you do more meaningful because you never know how it will affect someone else down the line, in the continuum.

I think this is especially poignant for all you Week-Enders who are parks and recreation professionals. More than most, you are in a position to impact the future continuum.

Why?  Because your business is all about making a positive impact on peoples’ lives; and if left to our own devices I think we humans are generally positive beings.  So positive actions will be more easily passed along than negative.  I’m a glass-half-full kind of guy, so I’m going with positives even though I know there are negatives out there.

So as we go into this weekend, I’m saying let’s touch someone and pay it forward.  You never know what impact you might have on the world.

R andy Gaddo, a retired Marine who also served for 15 years in municipal parks and recreation, is now a full-time photojournalist who lives in Beaufort, S.C.; he can be reached at (678) 350-8642 or email cwo4usmc@comcast.net.