“Gratitude is not only the greatest of all virtues, but the parent of all others.” –Cicero
Yesterday, I found myself digging through my “feel-good file,” a collection of all the kind notes, thank you cards, and inspirational letters I’ve received over the past 15 or so years.
I often pull out these notes to boost my spirits when I’m down and out.
If you don’t have a similar file, I highly suggest starting one!
While in that file, I discovered a lost little treasure I had completely forgotten about.
It was a gift from a gentleman named Randy Ray Sides, a bass player in a community orchestra I conducted many years ago.
Randy was a brilliant musician yet years of struggle with addiction had taken its toll both physically and mentally.
By society’s standards, Randy was a unique, quirky guy.
People liked him but didn’t really know what to make of him. In the orchestra, he had a great attitude and gave it his all, but his attendance record was very poor and it was hard to rely on him.
And then, out of nowhere, Randy surprised me. Even though some might consider Randy “broken”, he gave me a gift that helped put me back together.
Randy’s gift to me was a score and CD to an original piano piece he wrote for me called “Brilliant Pete”.
In the attached letter he wrote, “This song is for you, Pete, as an indication that someone recognizes your musical genius. It’s a tribute to your brilliance and inspiration.”
As I write this, tears.
I did not see myself that way.
But Randy did.
Looking now at the professionally hand-copied score (and the accompanying CD, which he recorded himself), I realize how much it took for Randy to create this gift for me.
It literally must have taken him days.
If Randy hadn’t shared this gift with me, through his own unique self-expression, I would have had never known how much he appreciated me.
For me, it was an important lesson–we can never know the impact we are having on people.
Turning the tables, it got me curious: what people in my life have I not yet acknowledged for the difference they’ve made for me?
Finding this little treasure from my past, I’m called to action. I will:
Hang that piece up next to my desk so I’m reminded every day of how Randy saw me.
Track Randy down and share with him that his gift made a big difference for me.
I remembered that Randy and I were Facebook friends, though I hadn’t heard anything from him in several years.
I looked him up and this is what I saw:
I couldn’t believe it.
Randy had passed away suddenly over three years ago.
And regret I hadn’t acknowledged him before he died.
And then, gratitude, to you Randy. For your life. Your unique spirit. And your brilliance.
Thank you for acknowledging me and seeing me as I couldn’t see myself.
May you rest in peace old friend.
Randy Ray Sides
1972 – 2011