If we knew each other's secrets, what comforts we should find. - John Churton Collins
Secrets are things we give to others to keep for us. - Elbert Hubbard
In the last 24 hours, I passed two milestones that for some reason I found to be curiously connected.
Yesterday I received my 50,000th email from a complete stranger around the theme of “I don’t know why I am telling you this but ….”. Yes – I count them. I put them in a special folder and marvel over their rawness, their honesty and the courage it took to write them. For many, I say a silent prayer for the darkness that the writer faces or I am amazed as I read about the trials and tribulations that they have overcome.
Today I started the journey into my 50th year on this planet and was humbled as my phone exploded with greetings via SMS, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, email and any other way that people could find me.
Now in truth, 50,000 such emails from complete strangers is nothing unusual if you’re in the business of self-help, psychology and the like or if you are Wayne Dyer, Deepak Chopra, Oprah Winfrey or some other public figure.
But I am a ruthless, cold, heartless Fortune 25 strategy advisor and large-scale technology architect and so I’m not supposed to receive such emails. Well, maybe I’m not that cold and heartless but don’t tell anyone – I’ve got a reputation to protect.
When I reflect upon my humble beginnings in this house in a small town in Newfoundland, Canada ….
…. and then I think about the abundance of birthday greetings coming to me today that serve as a reminder of where a Blessed Life well-lived has taken me ….
…. and then I think about the people who wrote me these powerful emails confessing their innermost secrets, fears and desires, it reminds me of these questions posed by Dr. Owen Phelps in his powerful book The Catholic Vision for Leading Like Jesus: Introducing S3 Leadership: Servant, Steward, Shepherd.
- Why am I here?
- What do I want to accomplish?
- Who or what makes my life worth living?
- Who or what can I trust to help me?
- Who or what will I trust with my life?
- Who or what matters most to me?
- For whom or what might I die or kill?
- For whom or what will I live?
…. and then I think of this quote from the same book:
Love – which opens us up to the possibility of a truly large Life purpose – is the source of Life. It is the creative force by which God brings us into existence.
…. I can’t help but wonder something.
My level of perfection
As a person who has been blessed with success in many things far beyond anything I could have hoped for when I was younger, I acknowledge that I have also made my share of mistakes in my Life. While I have made some doozies (some public and some private), if I could take them back, I would not be the person that I am today. In many ways, I would much more incomplete as a person had I not committed those mistakes.
When I think about my Life Journey, the successes and the failures, the victories and the defeats and the gratitude that overwhelms me every waking moment of my Life, it occurs to me that maybe, just maybe, these courageous people write to me not because they think that I hold the keys to Life, the Universe and everything but that in fact, they see me as I truly am – a fellow pilgrim who is not afraid to admit that I have been where they are.
And that maybe in that realization, they see hope for their own situation.
The Bottom Line
In the imperfection that is your Life (and mine) and in all the mistakes and victories that you have experienced, has it ever occurred to you that you are the perfect embodiment of something that someone else looks up, admires and needs to speak to right now?
For those who haven’t given this much thought, maybe if you were more cognizant of it, you would be more open to the Universe sending people in your direction to confess their innermost fears and desires.
And maybe, just maybe, as you feel overwhelmed with amazement as you read their confessions and innermost secrets, you will also have an opportunity to feel overwhelmed with gratitude for who you are, what you have accomplished (and survived) and where you are going.
In the course of being awash in such gratitude, it is possible that you will find a new or better Path before you for your remaining years.
And maybe you will help others find a better, brighter Path as well.
The world is waiting for you.
What are you waiting for?
In service and servanthood,
PS Here is a long distance dedication that some of you need to hear right now – Pilgrim by Enya.