The Most Meaningful Thing I Did At Reunion
On a spring evening in college, a student gave a performance that reached across the audience, found me in my row, grabbed the most creative part of my heart - a part I didn’t think had a place in the world - and brought it back to life.
And I never told the student.
I assumed he already knew. How could you be so powerful and not know it?
Over the years, I thought about his performance. He was whispery and deafening, fierce and tender; he showed me you could hold all the explosive contradictions in one mighty human form, and move forward.
And still, I didn’t track him down to tell him.
At reunion, thousands of us were back on campus. Of all the bodies filling up all the quads, I happened to see his. I needed to tell him. If I had had that kind of impact on someone, I’d hope she would tell me.
I went to him, nervous for reasons I didn’t understand. I introduced myself. And 10 years after that spring evening, I told him how much his performance had given me. How it had handed a chunk of my vitality back to me.
He gave me a surprised, sweet smile. He thanked me. He thanked me for telling him. I have no idea if he knew how powerful he was that spring evening. But even if he did, who couldn’t use a reaffirmation, a reminder?
The odds said I shouldn’t have seen him at reunion - he might not have even gone. But I got lucky: I got a chance to pick up a moment I’d dropped 10 years ago. And I won’t bank on luck again. Tell people when they reawaken you, enliven you, open you, ignite you. Tell them immediately.
On campus, I saw good friends. I connected with good teachers. But the thing I did at reunion that mattered the most to me was tell that man how he had impacted my life.
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