It’s Gratituesday. I’m thankful for those pivotal moments in my life that have made all the difference. One in particular comes to mind today. Oddly, I don’t remember the person’s name who played such a starring role.
On a slightly overcast day nearly twenty years ago, I had just arrived at an outdoor “retreat” of sorts. Nervous and uncertain about what to expect, I stashed my luggage and showed up for the keynote speaker. Walking across a wide expanse of mowed meadow, I felt a slight hint of rain. Looking up at the clouds I wondered how the week would change if it rained instead of shined.
I soon found out.
By the time all the participants unloaded luggage and found their way to the lodge where the keynote speaker would soon begin, the rain made itself part of the proceedings. People entered first with slightly wet heads and wiping raindrops from eyeglasses. Those who arrived a few minutes later looked disheveled, wet and somewhat wary.
The first thing the speaker said was, “Everybody stand up! Yes, everybody, even you all in the back rows.”
She waited. A few stragglers seemed reluctant to stand at which she pronounced, “The correct answer when someone asks you to do something is, ‘I’m excited about this idea!’” She smiled a big smile for a short person and said, “Let’s try again. Everybody stand up!”
Nearly everyone in the damp smelling room responded in a lackluster voice, “I’m excited about this idea.”
“I think we need a change of direction. Sing along if you know this one.” She then proceeded to belt out an energetic rendition that went like this.
“I’m singing in the rain, just singing in the rain, what a glorious feeling, I’m happy again…”
A few brave souls joined her part way through. As they did so a clap of thunder rolled across the hills outside at which a few people moaned, and a couple of people clapped. There was even a cheer or two.
When they finished singing she looked the group over and laughed again. “What was that phrase I said we should respond with? ‘I’m excited about this idea!’”
She put her hand to her ear as she said, “Everyone sing along with me!”
“I’m excited about this idea,” the group responded.
“I can’t hear you,” she said.
“I’m EXCITED about this idea!” we all yelled back.
Then we all belted out the first few phrases of “Singing in the Rain.”
For good measure we did another song with actions, of sorts. Arms spread as if welcoming a rainstorm, head back and mouth opened wide during the “ah, ah, ah” part of the song, we sang:
“If all the raindrops were lemon drops and gum drops, oh what a rain it would be…I’d stand outside with my mouth open wide, ah, ah ah ah ah, ah ah ah ah, ah ah ah. If all the raindrops were lemon drop and gum drops oh what a rain it would be.”
I don’t remember anything more specific about that speaker, not even her name.
I’m not sure what she said. But something clicked in me. Something sparked. Some cog turned that set in motion a churning machine of interconnected wheels, chain reactions, window opening, door crashing changes.
Maybe her joyful manner, her laughter, her energy overpowering even a thunderstorm affected me. Maybe the twinkle in her eyes or the bounce in her step brought some unspoken message that only I heard.
I felt it though. I felt different. From that moment, I began to chang from a cowering, shy uncertain afraid-of-her-own-shadow ghost of myself into a full-blown, somewhat bodacious, speak my mind, belt it out loud, say what I think semi-brave woman of substance.
No, all those changes weren’t instantaneous. More like a set of dominoes aligned in an elaborate design where the little rectangles rose on steps, circled and swirled in intricate paths, I too, unconsciously began my own domino effect of growth and change.
Maybe this woman’s words or actions or attitude figuratively poured water on a seed that lay dormant under a dirt and trash covered patch of ground in me. Someone else may have laid the seed in the ground and then years later, time and opportunity and, maybe the rain that day became the catalysts. Whatever happened was pivotal.
Like Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz”, my life changed from black and white to brilliant Technicolor. I became excited about this idea, and excited about that idea. Left and right I saw positives around nearly every corner.
It rained that entire week. In fact it rained so long and hard that some small trickling streams became raging rivers. Thunderstorms kept us awake nights. Schedules changed and rearranged. My feet never felt dry.
But me, inside, I felt newly born in the deluge.
I ran into this woman briefly, several years later, somewhere random, and had just a moment or two to tell her, “You changed my life with a presentation you gave a few years ago.” She looked at me, confused, without a clue who I was or what she’d said or done.
“Just know,” I said as the crowd whisked me away, “that you made a huge difference in someone’s life. Thank you!”
Yup. Pivotal. Turned my life around one hundred eighty degrees.