In the last couple of years, I’ve come to realize that everyone has a story. Not just some people. Not just the exciting people. But everyone. Obviously, everyone came from somewhere. Everyone has had circumstances that have shaped them. Things that have changed them. But do we actually think about this on a daily basis? Do we actually think about the fact that every single person we encounter has a story? Do we think about the fact that we are writing our story, and witnessing others living theirs? Do we fully realize that our adventures and explorations enhance our lives based on the people we encounter and events that take place?
The Little Things
I have this plant in my living room right now. It’s a new installment. I’ve already received a few compliments on it. The funny thing is, it’s not even mine. No, I didn’t steal it or anything crazy. I’m actually plant-sitting. And every time someone mentions the new plant, I have to smile a little. Because honestly, that plant has had me thinking a lot since it was placed in my living room. You are probably wondering how in the world a simple plant would have me thinking so much. Or you might wonder why everytime I come downstairs in the morning and see it I cannot help but smile. Do you want to know why? It’s because that plant has a story. And all the people who have come in contact with that plant? Everyone has a story. And that plant is a little thing that has become a piece of their story, and now it’s also a piece of our Alaska adventure story.
Little Plant, Big Journey
The plant ended up in my living room because a dear friend of mine was moving to San Diego and she could not bring it with her. She asked me to plant-sit for it until she could find a way to take it with her. I agreed. But as she told me the story of this plant. I became intrigued. You see, it’s really not an ordinary plant. My friend’s mother was given the plant some 40 years ago to celebrate the birth of her son. Already, it has a story – the celebration of life. Years went by, and my friend’s mother passed away. My friend took it because it was special to her because of the story and memories it held of her mother. When my friend had to move across the country, she left it with one of her mother’s friends for safe-keeping. And eventually my friend was able to retrieve the plant and bring it to her new home in Alaska. It’s now been in Alaska for several years, and now my friend has had to move from Alaska. Which is why it is sitting in my house. Building up more of its story. Quietly being a small piece of a puzzle in other people’s lives. A simple plant weaving itself into people’s histories. Because everyone has a story.
When a Little Gift has Unexpected Impact
Honestly, the plant is a story in and of itself. But one of the things that intrigues me is the fact that my friend didn’t know where the plant came from. She knows the occasion, but not the person. And I had to smile and wonder if that person knew that a simple plant would weave a story through so many people’s lives, including my own. Did that person ever dream that a plant would touch people’s hearts and bring smiles to so many people’s faces? Did that gift-giver dream that the plant would last for 40 years, and literally be building a legacy? Did that person ever imagine that they would have touched so many lives with a single plant? Did they suspect that the plant would be witness to joyous laughter or hidden tears? Did that person ever wonder if that plant would make a journey to Alaska? Everyone has a story, but did they expect that a plant would be a piece of so many people’s stories?
Small Pieces to a Big Puzzle
I know I never dreamed that I would have a plant with this story sitting in my living room. If we are being honest, I never even dreamed that I would live in Alaska. But here we are. It’s one of the things that is so poignant about adventuring and exploring. We go places that we never imagined we would. We meet people that we would otherwise not encounter. We create family and community in new places. Learn new traditions. Make new friends. Embrace new lifestyles. And we live. Daily live, making small choices that shape our lives and others’.
It made me wonder how often we think about the fact that our actions – even if they are simple – might also leave a legacy. A kind word. An encouraging smile. A simple gift. A plant. A helpful action. Oftentimes I think we fail to recognize their significance – both when we are giving and receiving them. But the reality is that all of those little things create a history, a legacy, a story. We may not think much about them at the time, but down the road, every little piece of the puzzle develops us as a person. Everyone has a story. Events that have changed them. Shaped them. Made them unique. And we have the choice. The choice to be a positive influence on them. To offer the encouraging word of support. To understand everyone has a story that is unique; stories of hardship and beauty. And we have the privilege to be a part of them.
If you love to travel and explore, chances are that you come across many people in those activities. And with each person that we encounter – be it a longtime friend or a person that we pass on a hiking trail – we have the chance to have a small influence on their lives. It might just be a smile to someone you only see for 10 seconds in your entire life. Or it may be the continued development of a lifelong friendship. But either way, it is up to us to decide what sort of influence we will have. Choose wisely. Because your story is being written too.