I had awakened much later than normal and was hurriedly getting ready for work. Why did this happen today, was running through my mind as I put on the last stroke of mascara. Why on the only day it is imperative I am to work on time? The interns are arriving for their orientation; I wanted to gather some thoughts before they started arriving.
Last year, the new workers shocked me with some of their questions. They were not specific to our company’s internships. Our graduates of recent have exhibited a long-term perspective on life and have asked, among other things, will working for this company teach me necessary life characteristics? I felt qualified to answer their questions, and I did, yet it just kind of caught me off, guard.
I rushed down the hall forcing on my shoes and reaching out for my keys while thinking; I could catch up on lost time by taking the Metro. Ignoring the keys, I slammed the door behind me as I ran down the sidewalk. It had rained all night, and the morning air was fresh and clean. There was something different about the feeling today. It was as though my being late was intended for something.
Being in a hurry, I had forgotten my metro pass, so I stopped to buy a ticket. The machines were so slow, and I felt they, too, had slept in. While waiting for the ticket to print, I thought the ride would give me time to think. I ran down the escalator with a ticket as the train was just pulling into the ramp. The crowd was much larger this morning, so I hurried to the last car, knowing that many didn’t want to walk the distance. What struck me odd was; I was the only person entering this car. As I boarded, the doors shut quickly behind me. To my amazement, there was only one other person in this car.
The other rider was an elderly man, foreign-looking, maybe visiting. We made eye contact, acknowledging each other as I found my seat.
It is easier to think with music playing in the background, so I listened to my iPod. I had recently seen the Broadway play Fiddler on the roof, so I played the soundtrack. The first song to play was, Sunrise, sunset. After the women sang the chorus, Tevye sang, “What words of wisdom can I give them?” These words weighed heavy on me. This was exactly what I was going to brainstorm in preparation for my meeting. I thought, perhaps I am in the sunset of my career, and the interns are coming into their sunrise.
Just then, I felt a tap on my shoulder, startled. I jumped fast, knowing no one but the older fellow was in this car with me. This gentle touch happened just as the thought of how can I share some wisdom that could advance the intern’s growth was running through my mind. My fellow rider was getting my attention; I pulled my earphones out quickly, asking what I could do for him. Calmly he stated, I understand you want to share life lessons today.
Words can’t describe the look which came across my face and as I began to ask, how on earth… He then rested his hand on my shoulder, completely calming my emotions. There are a lot of questions you have, I am sure, but there is not enough time he was suggesting.
He began to talk, telling me stories about his life. They were character traits that, if learned by youth, would ensure self-satisfaction and bless our world. This wonderful man began to share lessons and stories. Each carried a spirit touching my heart, validating what he was sharing as truth. Our time together seemed to fly by. When my stop came, I asked him to join me as I needed to leave; he declined. I asked for his contact information, but he declined; I left frustrated.
I hurried off to the office, rehearsing in my mind what he had said. I couldn’t wait to get to my computer and jot down some notes. The following is what I remembered:
- We must value the spirit of giving; obtaining the knowledge that resources are plentiful in this abundant world will serve us well. Compassion for selfless service ensures we will never want.
- Honesty leaves one’s heart free to explore. Purity in thought and deed build lasting relationships; with the support of loved ones, nothing can destroy us.
- The natural being, left free to explore untamed, will lead to devastation. We must learn restraint from unrighteous physical desires. These desires, used in moderation, participating only in proper times and places, fills our soul with happiness.
- Our ability to understand and reason will prove invaluable; it will navigate us down paths of success, allowing us to accomplish anything. It isn’t necessary for us to live through all life’s experiences to gain wisdom; many have already learned by practice and will teach us willingly.
- We must maintain an active spirit in all we do. The mind functions in a way that whatever is thought is lived. Build strength and vitality in life; the energy will bring us greatness.
- Nature, by example, shows us anything worthwhile comes over time. Anything worthwhile grows methodically, building on a strong foundation. Develop a willingness to carry on despite roadblocks.
- Be sincere in relationships; speaking with integrity builds bonds. Master being genuine in candor. This will comfort others who will understand our intent.
- Have an unyielding will, symbolizing boldness and perseverance. Know in your heart that when you have committed, you are totally engaged.
- Show empathy and charity to all; seeing others from their perspective opens our minds. Observing and knowing what others sense is more important than how we feel.
- Maintain composure in times of heightened emotion, reacting only when thoughts are calm and clear. Being sensible will open doors for solutions and creativity.
After writing these thoughts down, I got up to welcome the new group to our facilities. We walked together into the conference room, sharing small talk and greetings. The orientation went as scripted, but to my astonishment, no one asked a single thing about building character.
As I left the group and was walking down the hall, my mind was occupied with the feelings I had earlier today. My heart suggested my being late, riding the metro, and meeting the stranger, was for a reason. The reason, I thought, was in preparation to share with the new employees. They were all gone now, off doing their own thing. I entered my office, sat behind my desk, and put my head down. I was thinking where to go for lunch when I heard, excuse me, may I interrupt, please? There stood one of the young ladies who was interning with us. Certainly, come in, please. I asked her how I could help. You were kind in answering all our questions, yet I didn’t think my question was one that others would have an interest in. What is your question; I will do my best to answer it. In school, we learned the hows from a chalk and blackboard world. I wondered if you could share what you think it would take to live a happy successful life. I suggested to this young lady you probably wouldn’t believe where I got what I am going to share, but here are some thoughts.
I then shared the stories from my metro friend with this wonderful young lady. I thought it was uncanny how well I could remember his stories; they were free-flowing and nearly verbatim. She listened intensely. It seemed as though she had lived them. She asked me how I came to learn these lessons; I shared my story with her.
What she said next completely shocked me; she described perfectly every detail of the man I was with. She shared that her grandfather had recently passed away, and he had something he wanted to share with her. She didn’t make it home in time to see him. Her heart was broken, knowing how invaluable his words of wisdom would have been to her. She knew her grandfather was a spiritual man. A man who never took the time to write down his own stories. This young lady had hoped there would be a way someday, somewhere, for her to learn what her grandfather had wanted to share.
I can’t say for certain this was her grandfather who visited me on the Metro but suggest my heart validates it was. I would be grateful if I were the medium to fulfill his desires. I know for certain that, if nothing else, the lessons he taught are of great wisdom, messages I will never forget.