When we were first married, Diane and I lived in a tiny, rented house in Redondo Beach, California. It had been built in 1920, and our landlady had renovated it just before we moved in.
The garage was too small for our cars to fit, so we always parked in the driveway. That was part of the charm of the house; the driveway was two strips of cement with hard-packed, rocky dirt in the middle. We could almost picture a Model-T Ford with its skinny tires resting on those narrow patches.
The black ground in the middle was almost as hard as the cement, soaked solid from years of oil dripping from various engines.
Here we were, at the beginning of our marriage – building memories in a house that was already full of them
Diane’s first job was as a preschool teacher. Every evening, we would sit together on the floor in our little living room, cutting and pasting and creating activities for the next day’s class. I was always amazed at her ability to build experiences that would shape a tiny little person’s understanding of a key concept.
One day, we collected a popcorn maker, a bag of corn, and a bunch of Dixie cups. In class, she popped the corn with the lid off – so each “pop” would send fluffy flakes flying around the room. The kids each had a little cup, and would race around trying to catch the kernels before they hit the ground.
(I don’t remember the point, but it sounded awesome . . . !)
She pulled in the driveway at the end of that day and opened the hatchback of our little Honda station wagon. The leftover corn had spilled while she was driving, and some of it fell out onto that grimy, rocky, oily strip of dirt. It was only a few kernels, so she left them there. It wasn’t worth getting gunk under your fingernails to pick them up.
We thought that was the end of it.
Until they started to grow.
First, it was little green sprouts. Then the plants took on the distinct appearance of corn. Within a few weeks, tiny ears of corn began to appear. (We parked in the street so we could watch the progress.)
They never reached full size, and we definitely didn’t harvest and eat them. (We weren’t sure what kinds of toxins in that soil had made their way into the corn.) But we were amazed that anything could grow there.
Is there a point?
Well, I don’t want to force everything that happens into a life lesson. But for some reason, that one always stuck with me. Here’s what I’ve taken from it over the years:
We’re dropping seeds every day. Every conversation, every encounter, every contact – we leave our thoughts with other people.
And we never know where those seeds are going to take root – and often in the most unlikely soil.
We never know who will be impacted by our lives and by our words.
But it’s happening.
There are no casual contacts.
We’re impacted daily by others in ways they never know. We’re impacting them in ways we never see.
We make a difference.