Wednesday, June 22, 2016

You Never Know

A Web site I read on a regular basis invited people to send questions in for local athletes to answer. I sent a snarky e-mail, never really expecting a response at all. Imagine my surprise when not only was my question included, but the guy who answered seemed to have fun with it, too.

Photo Credit: +N. M. Scuri 
In and of itself, it wasn't a big event, but it reminded me of something that happened several years ago. I had a job as an editor in NYC, working on a magazine for doctors. I was helping to put together an article about a group who sends medical personnel to rural areas to perform plastic surgery on young children with cleft palates. We were proud of what we'd done, but there's always another issue to put out, so we sent it to the printer and got back to work. We never expected the response from our readers.

The issue mailed on September 11, 2001. Our audience, as shocked and dazed as everyone else, wrote to tell us how they were comforted by the story of people who brought good into the world when many thought there was none left anywhere.

So, what do these two little tales have in common, and why are they here? Well, what I realized is that the words we string together, often with not too much thought, have a power and reach that go far beyond anything we could even dream about. We know this in our heads, but sometimes we need to see these things to know it in our guts. I have one more story for you.

I was at a New York Islanders game one night a few years ago. It was between periods and the concession area was mobbed. I was getting a bottle of water when I heard a voice behind me: "You cut your hair." I looked around. There was no one I recognized. I heard it again. "You cut your hair."

I turned and saw an old student of mine. I hadn't seen her in years. She thanked me for helping her as a freshman; she graduated and had been accepted to law school. I told her it was her own hard work that got her there, but it made me feel good to think that something I did helped someone else reach their goals, or find consolation, or laugh.

Words have that kind of power.
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N. M. Scuri

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