The Value of a Personal Note

Yesterday I had an unusual experience.

Mail box

Yet, it started out as nothing particularly special.  I stopped by my mailbox to pick up any mail that I might have.  In the mailbox was an envelope, not surprisingly addressed to me.  All normal so far.

But then I opened it and started to read the one pager that was inside.

The first thing that was unusual was that the top half of the one pager was a quote from Henry David Thoreau.

“It is something to be able to paint a particular picture, or to carve a statue, and so to make a few objects beautiful; but it is far more glorious to carve and paint the very atmosphere and medium through which we look — — —  To affect the quality of the day – that is the highest of arts.”

The bottom half of the one pager was addressed to me, and it was just three sentences long.  It said,

“Thoreau was right  — improving others’ days is the highest of arts, and you always bring this to the table.  You always improve the quality of my day, and I am sure this is true for many others as well.  Thank you for doing so.’

The note was signed by a friend of mine, Jim.  I have changed his name to protect his privacy.

Holy cow!  When I read this I was flummoxed.  I was breathless.  My mouth was wide open.

I have no idea what sparked Jim to write such a note and send it to me.  Jim is a good friend but I have not seen or talked to him in months.  I have exchanged a couple of emails with him during those months, but not about anything personal.

Why, I am wondering, would someone sit down, take the time to write such a thoughtful, considerate, kind, generous, complimentary and loving piece of work.  And then take the time to address an envelope, put a stamp on it, and get it to the local post office for mailing.

Frankly, I am having a difficult time thinking about whether I have ever in my almost seven decades of life received such a note.  I can’t remember ever receiving such a note from anyone.

Jim’s words are so touching. They make me feel so warm inside, so good, so valued, so seen.  I am so thankful and grateful that he feels this way about my presence in his life.  It is very humbling to receive something like this note.

As I have reflected on this note, I am so impressed that Jim would take the time to bring together his thoughts, to share his feelings and to transmit them to me.  What this says about Jim is the real story of this note, as far as I am concerned.

For a person to collect their thoughts and observations about another human being is one thing.  To do that and to be able to articulate it and be willing to write it down on paper is another thing.  And finally, to be willing to share your thoughts with the other human, by mailing it snail mail is still a step beyond.

What a gift to the rest of us to have a friend like Jim.  We need more Jim’s. Or, to state it another way, we need to act more like Jim.

His note has inspired me to write a similarly short but very personal note to others.  Notes that let the other person know what they mean to me.  How their presence in my life has been a blessing.  How the world is a better place in part because of them.

With so many of my peers passing, with so many taking their last breaths, it raises the question of why should we wait for the celebration of life event to say what we feel they meant to us.  Why don’t we tell them while they are still living what they mean to each one of us.

I have made a pledge to myself to start writing notes to friends telling them what they mean to me and others.

Thank you Jim for showing me the way — the value of a personal note.  Thank you for being such a good friend.


2 thoughts on “The Value of a Personal Note”

  1. Neil you are a very special person indeed! I for one will follow yours and ‘Jim’s’ lead. Thank you for the welcomed reminder that it’s the little things in life that indeed mean so much!

  2. Neil,

    This is really, uh, “nice” in all the best of ways! And, so right on all points that count on the big scale of things. I do fondly recall our relationship during our brief time at the WWS as “special” and wish life’s course had allowed a more continuing closeness. Be well, my friend!

    ❤️, Baze

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