Leaving our mark on the world

Noah napping
Noah napping

A few weeks ago, I went on a trip with my brother to Florida. On our drive back home, we stopped at a Wendy’s in North Carolina. The woman who took our order was in her 40’s or 50’s…I couldn’t really tell, but she had a light within her that felt like a warm hug. It was so comforting to be in her presence for those few minutes as she asked what we wanted and took our money. The restaurant was busy, but she didn’t seem rushed.

She looked into my eyes when she spoke…and she smiled. It was obvious that she wasn’t wrapped up in her own mind, or lamenting that at her age, she should be somewhere other than working at Wendy’s. She wasn’t complaining about her lot, or her life, or the state of the world.

She was present. And maybe I noticed it because it seems to be a quality that is uncommon; being happy where we are, touching those around us with our light. Not striving to be important or noticed or acknowledged for “our work”. She showed me, in a brief moment what presence was, and she left an impression on me that felt like Love.

When I ask myself the question, “What should I do with my life!?”, as if living and loving and being kind isn’t really enough, then that question becomes a tyrant to me, prodding me, throwing examples before my eyes of all of the successful ones who have “made it” and who have done something big and have left their mark on the world in a big way (always as opposed to me). I don’t think that we can strive to find meaning in life. I think that striving and struggling make us tired and self-concerned.

I think it’s better to smile at ourselves in the mirror and to take that smile with us and share it with the world.

“For better or for worse, I’ve watched people die in front of me. I see how they are in the end. And they’re not cynical. In the end, they wanna hold somebody’s hand. And that’s real to me.” Mitch Albom


32 thoughts on “Leaving our mark on the world”

  1. This brought tears to my eyes. I have encountered people like that, too, but didn’t pay attention. So much striving to be other than what we are and not noticing what is. It’s as if we need permission to just be. Reading this, I conjured up my own image of the happy woman at Wendy’s – she’s kind of glowing – and I can feel her presence, too! Thanks


  2. Years ago I came across this quote by Maya Angelou – “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” I kept it on my fridge and have tried to live it. Isn’t it funny that something so simple, and doesn’t cost a thing, can have such a profound impact on someone else…and in your case, a total stranger. I love your happy experience, Mary, maybe our Southern hospitality had something to do with it too!
    A good day to all with love and hugs, Marian

    1. I did notice a wonderful, slower and more open feeling “hospitality” Marian. Thank you and thank you for the beautiful words of Maya Angelou. Love to you today, Mary

  3. Beautiful! and perfect. Thank you Mary.
    I often think of the moment you wrote about when Noah heard your voice, and remembering your kindness raised his head in acknowledgement of that beautiful connection with kindness, so he became yours.
    Once again, beautiful and perfect.

    Love from Fran

    1. Thank you for reminding me of that day Fran….it is good to go back there in my mind and feel the wonder of it again. Sending you thoughts of love and connection today, Mary

  4. Mary, it’s nice when people find themselves in jobs where they have the opportunity to connect with people, such as the person who waited on you in NC. She obviously enjoys people and it’s a skill in helping others to feel welcome that she obviously does well. It’s as though they are sharing the light that shines in their own barrel with each person they meet. And leaving your mark on the world doesn’t involve having a massive ego to do so. It’s those brief moments of meeting people in your life that leaving you feeling warm, that matters.
    SandyP in Canada

  5. I ” heard” an exchange of human dignity and respect, from both you and the woman, which we all respond to well! It is unconditional love.

  6. Thanks Mary for reminding me of the absolutely fantastic customer service we received at a Friendlys Restaurant years ago. I often went there when dropping my daughter off at college or picking her up. The wait staff was stellar ~ so much so that I wrote them a note at one point expressing my appreciation for always receiving good service at their restaurant. It’s a good reminder that people notice how you treat them! I’m glad to be reminded again of its importance!

  7. “I think it’s better to smile at ourselves in the mirror and to take that smile with us and share it with the world.”

    Mary, I love this. Sometimes it feels like that’s all we have to give. There’s nothing better than exchanging a smile with a stranger… Sometimes for no reason at all…it always warms my heart. And just so you know you have- and continue to impact my life in a big way all the time with your beautiful (and inspirational) words in each and every blog i read..

  8. Dear Mary, thank you for this tender reminder that being at peace is not about doing, but about being. The light within shines most when we are just being, not trying to be.

  9. This is an important life lesson to learn. When you’re young it’s all about what you do. When you’re older it’s all about who you are. I know some “successful” people who have the emotional intelligence of a knat. They have big educations, careers and bank accounts but are failures in the important aspects of life. Thanks for the reminder.

  10. We met a young man serving us in Zion National Park last Nov. He was a descendant of a famous founder in that region. I may have this term wrong, but there’s a concept that in the New Age, there are ‘indigo’ children coming in straight from the LIght. He certainly felt like one. I noticed he gently touched my shoulder as our lunch progressed & his eyes were as lovely as his manner. I always smile at strangers. Maybe we can also remember to smile at ourselves in the mirror!

    1. Thanks for this, Kathi. I have been in the presence of an ‘Indigo’ child and found her to be really remarkable in her bearing and innate kindness….evolved beyond her years, in a really good way.

      I, too, always smile at strangers. Now I will try smiling at myself more often.

  11. I love what you have described. I live in the U.S., but often note that “happy with my lot in life” attitude among Canadians. We get trapped in the striving.

    I’ve read in recent years that most of us do not remember who won the race, won the championship, etc., but we do remember the name of a teacher or neighbor or someone who showed us kindness.

  12. Noah is so adorable laying there.
    I truly believe in living in the present as I didn’t always feel that way. I was caught up in trying to see whats ahead and what I did in the past that was wrong.
    Thank you Mary

  13. What a lovely post and comments to accompany me on my walk this morning! I cut out a little quote that was in our newspaper a few months back. The Dalai Lama said: “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.” Sounds like your lovely lady spreads her kindness generously – a simple smile, that connection that we are all in this together. Thank you Mary! I feel enveloped in the warmth of the flock this morning!

  14. Dear Mary, This is lovely. I was just on my deck watching yet another storm begin. I was caught in negative thought and stopped. I thought of your post yesterday and said outloud, Live in the moment… The sky was so busy, it wasn’t that cold and the tall bare branches of all the trees around were dancing in the wind! I came in and read this post. It works! The moment is wonderful! Thanks for your kind blog Mary. Cindy

  15. Love this pic of Noah! Love the post, too, Mary. You never know when you will cross paths with someone who is so open and giving of spirit. You leave them the better for it. One of life’s healing moments.

    1. Thank you Suzanne (I just love it when kitties cover their faces with their paws!)…love to you today, Mary

  16. And sometimes you don’t even need to see the actual smile, sent from miles away and from a face you’ve never encountered.
    Here it is Wednesday; sending healing energy and a hearty grin to Christine Catherine. BE well.

  17. Mary, I want to let you know I look forward to reading your inspiring thoughts every day. Interesting how often your thoughts and message align with what I am working on… I am reading Brenda Ueland’s book on writing. I love her style, humor and ease! Sending a smile your way.

  18. What an absolute beautiful post, Mary! We can all leave our mark on the world by letting our light shine, no matter what we do- big or small. I really strive to just be me and be kind to everyone I meet– my little Frankie really taught me that. “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.” 🙂

Comments are closed.