Wednesday 28 January 2015

The Unprecedented Joy In Making Someone's Day

I peer down curiously at the small white envelope with my name on, handwritten in small bouncy script. 

My mind is completely absent to the memory of the girl who'd emailed me asking for my address a few days prior. I eagerly yet cautiously tear into the package to find a four page long, handwritten letter.

I'm not two paragraphs in before a lump starts to rise in my throat. 

By the end, my hands are shaking. 

 "This is a reminder to never forget that you are a dreamer. Don't ever let that little kid in you die, nourish her and strive to be that astronaut today and that zookeeper tomorrow. Don't ever let people, whether it be your parents or any person you feel doubted by, make you question your dreams. Remember that despite all the negativity, jealousy, scepticism, and lack of confidence, there will always be people routing for you and your successes and who wish to see you triumph. I know I definitely don't only speak for myself when I say these words;

I know you can do this. I believe in you."

I lower the letter slowly and close my eyes, exhaling deeply, for once, lost for words at the level of gratitude, humbleness and soaring elation coursing through my veins. There was something about the fact it was handwritten too, spelling errors and cross-outs galore, that really struck a chord of tearful gratitude in me too. We live in a world of such hyper-communication that taking the time, effort and money to send something handcrafted by post, really meant so goddamn much.  

But something bothered me, I re-read again carefully.

"I really wanted to give you something to remind you on this journey of yours to always be you and always dream big. 

The key is called a 'Giving Key'. The idea came from a brilliant woman who had the idea to start engraving old, used keys with inspirational words. Realising in a way that we are all like these keys - unique, flawed, scarred and at risk of being discarded - she wanted these keys to have their purpose renewed over and over again. The idea behind them is that their message is yours for a time but once they have served their purpose with you: pay it forward to inspire another."

My heart soared with joy as it had done the first time I'd read it. But I shook the pages, turned the envelope upside down, inside out... nothing. Was the key metaphorical? I read once more... surely not?

I re-traced my steps frantically searching my entire house and front doorstep - nothing. 

I scanned the envelope for signs of forced entry but there were none aside from my own, and thinking back, the envelope hadn't felt weighty enough for me to assume there was anything other than paper in there. 

My heart that was soaring suddenly plummeted to my stomach. 

This girl had reached out to me in the most profoundly beautiful way possible, and in doing so, the object she so cherished and wished to pass on to me, had become lost. 

I pretty much turned my house upside down, but to no avail. 

Eventually I emailed her to thank her, but to also reveal the heartbreaking news. 

Like I, she was equally delighted and devastated, but was quick not to blame me. She contacted Royal Mail but there was nothing they could do, and so the whereabouts of the Giving Key remained lost to the whimsy of time and space. 

But I couldn't sleep knowing her purely innocent and almost heartbreakingly sweet gesture had been somewhat tarnished by these unfortunate circumstances. I was still floored with gratitude and joy at the gesture and her beautiful words, but I knew she must be feeling absolutely gutted.

And so I took matters into my own hands. 

If she was unable to pass something on to me that she so wanted to, then I would make something that her and I could share forever.

Like a woman on a mission, I set out and sourced two identical silver keys, and some other bits and pieces to really perfect the gesture. 

And so I made us two unique and identical key necklaces, one for her and one for I, knowing that these were the only two of the type and sentiment in the universe, an unbreakable bond between two passionate and thoughtful human strangers. 

Although not able to engrave them, I wanted to make them as profound as the key she'd intended to gift me. So on the key head, in black sharpie I inscribed one simple phrase that, to me, and anyone who's read me for a while, means everything. 

'Stay Silver'

With a length of black leather chord strung between them, they were complete. 

Slipping my one round my neck as I worked, I delicately wrapped hers and slipped it inside it's little printed package, wrapping it in the perfect ribbon I'd found. 

Alongside the little package, I wrote a note.

Dear Beth,

I'm really sorry your incredibly sweet gift got lost in the post, but hey, maybe it's found its way to someone who needed it more than us? Plus your beautiful letter was more than I could have ever asked for.

Instead, I hope this makes up for it. Your very own 'Stay Silver' key necklace  - and I have it's unique and identical twin. Now, neither of us will ever forget to remain extraordinary. 

Thank you with all my heart,


And it was complete. 

And you know, finishing off tying the little ribbon and popping the parcel into a (very secure) envelope, I felt this extraordinary sense of excitement and glee imagining her finding this one her doorstep, and (hopefully) having the same reaction I did when I opened her letter. 

I guess I've come to realise that one of the most fun and joyful things in the world, is doing small and unexpected things to make other people smile. And it kinda makes it that much more special when they are a complete stranger.

You always see these articles about 'passing it on' or 'paying it forward' and I guess in some ways it's the most selfish form of selflessness, because I cannot explain just how goddamn good it feels to know that you've made someone else's day. 

And returning to the Holstee Manifesto which I haven't referred to in a while actually, 'Life is about the people you meet and the things you create with them' - that couldn't be more true. 

I truly believe that every single person you come across has something to teach you, if you're only willing to open your ears and listen. 

And this sweet and beautiful-spirited stranger has definitely taught me a little something about selflessness, and how just one small act of kindness can have such a profound and resounding effect on someone, especially if you don't even know them and probably never will.

So go ahead, make someone's day, 'cause you never know who might make yours. 

Let's just hope this one doesn't get lost in the post, hey?

p.s sorry about my atrocious excuse for nail varnish