My name is Jim Blok and I believe that the best part of people is not to be found inside them. It’s not in the places usually considered; the heart, the mind, or the soul. Rather, the very best part of who we are can be found in our connections to others. It can be seen with crystal clarity in how we touch the lives of others and they ours. When you want to know what kind of a person someone truly is, you must look in the faces of those around that person.
I was 7 years old; brand new to Ypsilanti, Michigan and feeling very alone in the midst of twenty or so kids in Mrs. Hatch’s third grade classroom. The room was filled with the talking, touching and occasional laughter of children on their first day of school after summer vacation. There was no question, these kids knew each other. Unlike me, they belonged.
As Mrs. Hatch called the class to order, she greeted each child by his or her first name. It was as if she wanted all these children to know that each one was special and very important to her. I dare not look up while waiting to hear my name. But, Mrs. Hatch didn’t say my name and I slumped deeper into my seat feeling invisible. The room became very quiet. So, I looked up to find Mrs. Hatch standing by my desk. I was startled and afraid until she placed her hand on my shoulder, smiled and said, “You must be Jim. That’s a very special name. My son is named Jim.” In an instant, I was no longer a stranger, but a member of Mrs. Hatch’s third grade family.
I have never forgotten Mrs. Hatch’s simple act of kindness. She had taken a mere moment to share a touch and kind word. But, that one moment found its way into my heart and Mrs. Hatch still lives in my smile.
It wasn’t until I was older that I came to understand Mrs. Hatch’s priceless lesson. She had shown me that the person we are is best reflected in the face of the others we touch. To truly know yourself, I believe you must look into the faces of those around you.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.