Earlier this week, an old friend said in so many words I had provided "silent encouragement" to him. To that end, he's been writing a book for quite some time and apparently has reached that magical point where it's clicking and happening and otherwise taking on a life of its own. Apparently I was enough of an influence on getting him to that point that he needed to voice it publicly (well, on Facebook, anyway).
I had absolutely no idea — his revelation took me by complete surprise. Wow! And to make it even more interesting, one of his friends said basically the same thing — that he had been a similar inspiration to her, and that she, too, was working on a book and had him to thank.
Two things: First, I like that I've paid things forward here, and that the payment was big enough to spread around to others. Second, I like that I really wasn't trying to do anything specific at all. I just did what I've always done — say what's on my mind, get words in front of eyeballs, that sort of thing. It's good to know that sometimes that's all it takes.
It makes me think perhaps we rarely know when we're making a big difference in someone's life. There are times when it's extremely obvious, of course, but unless you're inside that other person's head, you can't know for sure what's going to be an influence and what's not. It could be something as simple as a single sentence.
In this case, I'm glad it was something positive. Lately, I've been trying to walk gently in general, simply because the world is fucked up enough right now without me contributing more craziness and ranting and raving to it (and believe me, I really could!). I guess I never thought that something that's been a part of who I am for so long could have just as strong and positive an impact.
The net takeaway — stay true to yourself. It is good for yourself and those in your circle.