Quiet as kept, I live with the delightfully vain idea that New York City is buzzing with people who were somehow or another inspired by me …And for sure, I am rather ordinary.
You see, in the 7th grade, there was a teacher that pulled me aside for a fateful chat. Her name was Ms. Dinos. What she had to say was simple – I was a follower with the potential of a leader, and what I needed was some new friends and some time to grow up. She suggested to my mother that I repeat the 7th grade. After a pout, a plead and a prayer, I made a deal, “give me the summer and I’ll show you!”
That summer, I made it my business to do just that. By the following school year, I was awarded a medal that validated my efforts. Two of those three friends she warned me of eventually became alcoholics – one an ex-con, the other a chronic woman-beater. Ms. Dinos saved my life.
Twenty years later, Ms. Dinos and I were reunited on Facebook. However, she didn’t remember the event at all. Right then it hit me. That event that meant so much to me was just a singular moment in her well-lived life. Ms. Dinos had since become a famous garden designer. Gardening was her true calling – teaching was a detour of sorts. Either way, she had a knack for planting seeds.
It was only months after reuniting with Ms. Dinos, that an old student of my own popped up online. She inform me of the moment that I inspired her. According to her, I once shared a drawing of mine with the class. At the time, I was studying design in college and teaching part-time at her after school program to help make ends meet. That student was so moved by the drawing that she wanted to learn to do the same. While the program was primarily a writing program and her mother was in fact a well regarded writer, that picture ignited in her a passion that she later turned into a career. Impossible, I thought. My own little seed, planted and grown.
I haven’t taught a workshop in almost ten years. But now understanding what I do about the power of planting seeds, I take every opportunity to share what I can with as many young people as possible. I offer bits of wisdom or words of encouragement, but sometimes just a smile – it goes a long way. While these simple exchanges come and go with no fanfare and likely no reunions, I know that one day, when they’re ready for it, that seed I planted will be there, ready to grow.
So with that, I believe in embracing my inner gardener and striving to inspire exponentially – one seed at a time. Because like Ms. Dinos, we are all ultimately gardeners with the power to grow something beautiful.