You hear it a lot. What’s the point? I’m only one person. What could I possibly do to change anything? The answer: absolutely anything! Does that surprise you?
One of the most powerful interactions of my life happened a little over a year ago, at the hands of one random stranger. I had escaped to Target for a few minutes to clear my head while my youngest son Emmett was in the hospital with my husband to keep him company. I was wandering aimlessly when I ran into a couple of old coworkers. As I filled them in on the newest details of my life and how my son was doing, a sob escaped against my will. I was embarrassed: basking in the fluorescent lighting and surrounded by party supplies, this was NOT the place to have a breakdown. I tried to hold it together but before I knew it, I was crying steadily, awkwardly, with barely comprehendible words coming out in between sobs. And then she appeared out of nowhere: a woman I had never seen before in my life and she was tightly hugging me and whispering calming words in my ear. She was telling me about her son, about his life, offering prayer, comfort, hope, and matching my own tears with her own. A complete stranger, just one woman, crying with me in the middle of Target for my son, a child she had never even met. The compassion and love poured out of her with such ferocity that I may have not believed it if I hadn’t been there myself. I think about her from time and time and she continues to inspire me to want to live my life the same way I imagine she must.
Last Saturday, I was running and chatting with a random woman at RunGR. In our ramblings about training, I mentioned the fact that I am a Road Warrior for the Fifth Third River Bank Run. My new running partner gasped and said “I know exactly what that is!” It turns out she was passed by an (unknown) Road Warrior at the Resolution Run this year. She didn’t even know exactly what a “Road Warrior” was but saw it boldly printed on the flashy yellow jacket. She couldn’t believe the ease in which she was passed and it made her want to kick up her training. She went home and looked up the Road Warriors, saw that we trained with RunGR, and went and signed up for RunGR herself! She’s been going ever since, loving it, training hard, and going in a completely new direction. All because she was inspired to do something more.
What do these two stories have to do with each other? Everything. No, it’s not the same woman. It’s the power of one. Just one person. Whether it is a deliberate act of compassion like the woman in Target or you never even know it happened, like the woman from RunGR, one person can have a tremendous impact on the world around them with simple, small acts. When I filled out my Road Warrior application, I actually wrote that I wanted to change the world. It seems lofty and maybe a little arrogant, but that doesn’t make it any less true. One person at a time, slowly but surely, I have to do something. You better believe people are watching you and your behavior as well, whether you realize it or not. Are you leading by example to your friends, family, coworkers? Do you want to do something more? You have a choice. That person that just dropped their entire bag of groceries in the parking lot, that person in line in front of you digging desperately for just one more dollar to buy their food, that runner walking alongside of the course crying, that kid that everyone else is making fun of – you have the chance to not just witness it but intervene. The power of one is strong because together we are a lot of ones and that absolutely has the potential to change lives.