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And You Unexpectedly Realize

I speak a lot about making a difference, about making the world a better place because you live in it. I say this mostly to educators. The work of the educator is a calling more than a job, and our mission is to empower human potential. For some reason, about this I have always been passionate.

I have generally tried to live to this goal. But, perhaps in the business of living, I hadn’t really stopped to consider where I measure up on this personal mantra. And today I was rather stricken with the realization. I’ve been actually doing it I think.

A very dear friend of mine said to me, years ago, “Tyson, you have no idea how strongly you impact people. You’re just totally oblivious, aren’t you.” At the time I wasn’t sure that was a compliment. He called me today. He will be here in LA tomorrow speaking at a conference. I haven’t had the opportunity to see him for years. I’m so excited.

And today I got an email to my work address with the subject: “Dr. Tyson?”

The email was from a student from 30 years ago. I’ve received several of this type of unexpected email lately. As I read and memories come flooding back, these former students, sometimes former employees, speak in rather sobering terms of my impact in their lives. Yet, at the time, I had no idea.

Completely unaware, I’ve even had children named after me by former students. My kindergarten teacher from many, many years ago now, even named her son, “Tim.” Maybe I’ve had an affect on people all my life. Again, I’ve never stopped to really consider any of this until, unexpectedly, today, it just sort of hit me with Yo Yo Ma playing while I was working away—bit of an emotional moment.

You just never know.