I want to tell you a short story. It may not mean anything to anyone, but I think it is important.
There is this guy at work. He is 61 years old and has the most pleasant disposition. He believes in hard work and smiling. He always smiles and says hello to everyone he sees. I don’t think he knows a stranger. Every time I see him, he says in the most happiest of tones, “There’s my buddy!” He then gives me a fist bump and we talk for usually no more than 30 seconds. Then he goes his way and I go mine. We could see each other a dozen times in the course of a day and he always smiles, always says “There’s my buddy,” and always gives me a fist bump.
Let’s just call this man Burt.
Burt never has anything bad to say. He never gripes or complains. He just does his job and smiles and laughs and makes those who come in contact with him have a brighter day. If there is ever anyone I wish I could be like when it comes to being positive, it is Burt. I never come away from talking with him without a smile on my face.
Late last year I ran into him and he wasn’t really smiling. Sure, he forced one when he saw me, but the usual exuberance in his voice wasn’t there.
“Are you okay?” I asked. Yes, I was concerned for Burt.
He said, “Do you have a minute to talk?”
“Sure,” I said. “I have as many minutes as you need.”
“I consider you a friend, and I just need to tell someone about my wife. She’s sick …”
I’m not going to go into the rest of the conversation, but I will say he had tears clinging to his eyes. We talked and we prayed and we talked some more. We even hugged. And when he walked away from me, he smiled, gave me a fist bump and said, “Thank you, my buddy.”
I watched him walk away. For the first time since I have known him, I wasn’t smiling after talking to him. I was sad and worried for him. Later that day when I saw him, he was smiling his big smile and he seemed more like himself. You see, Burt just needed to get his feelings off his chest. He needed someone to listen to him, to hear his words and to let him hurt for a few minutes.
Since then, his wife has gotten better and he gives me reports on her when I ask (which is quite frequently). He smiles, gives me fist bumps and still says, “There goes my buddy.”
A long time ago, after maybe a couple of months of knowing Burt, I said to him, “It’s great to see someone who has such a great attitude.”
He nodded and he got real serious with me. He leaned in as if we were about to have a private conversation. “I don’t see a need to be any different.”
I don’t either.
So, what’s the point? Well, this is two fold, I guess. First, you never know what is going on in someone’s life. Maybe an act of kindness is all someone needs in order to get through the day. Maybe that person needs to talk to someone—anyone who will actually listen—in order to make it through a hard time. Second, a smile, a laugh, a joyful fist bump might just be the cure society needs. My buddy, Burt, always smiles, always laughs and is always positive, even during some of his darkest moments. He doesn’t show the world what hurts him. He doesn’t complain that life is not fair. He doesn’t say, “I wish someone else would do my job so I can sit down.” He smiles. He laughs.
Burt enjoys life and he makes those around him better for it. The world needs more Burts. The world needs more people who will smile and laugh (not at people, but with them) and uplift others.
There is so much in life to be thankful for, but we are too busy looking at all of the negative things. We are blind to the good things around us, but Burt’s not.
Do me a favor. Take a minute and look at the world around you. I’m sure there is something good in it, even if it seems like there is not. I’m sure there is someone you know who might need a smile, a laugh, a fist bump, a ‘there’s my buddy.’ Take a minute and be Burt. I guarantee one thing: after smiling and laughing with someone else, you will walk away better for it.
As always, thank you for reading, and until we meet again, my friends, be kind to one another.