It Only Takes a Word

Every morning, like many other people, my first activity on rising is to go to my computer. I have almost 9000 photo images that display as a slideshow on my desktop, and it’s often fun to start the day with something amusing, attractive, or down-right gorgeous. (Dame Diana Rigg, I have always loved you!)

The day may start off with a picture of my friend in Foggy Bottom, or images of Tsar Nicholas II and his family (my liege!), or perhaps something funny, such as an advertisement featuring ‘live, nude fish.’ I thrill to a photograph of an ancient library, or a whale sounding on the ocean at sunset. I have yet to be disappointed, even when the first image of the day says, ‘I see the assassins failed again.’

I do not believe my computer is talking to me. I do believe random images help set my mood for the day.

I think the principle reaches further. It doesn’t take much to alter the course of a person’s experience. ‘Jeopardy’ host Alex Trebek, is a master of this. A contestant on his show was playing miserably. She missed a couple of answers, she didn’t get to the button fast enough to give the right answer, and she was becoming increasingly upset. Finally, she hit the button first, gave the correct answer in the correct form, and scored her first win of the round. Mr Trebek, as I recall, said, ‘It was looking grim, but you turned that around beautifully!’ The contestant visibly brightened, and did quite well after that, although ultimately she did not win the game.

One little comment.

It’s easy to tear someone down, to forget what they’ve been through, to ignore what they’ve done. I think we’re accustomed to that type of treatment. Saying something positive has an almost magical effect.

Last night I wrote a brief article about someone who has exemplified certain principles that have affected me positively. I chose my former neighbour, whose help to me in dark times made a huge difference. I called her and read her the article (because I save writing about people behind their backs for my novels), and she was quite moved. It was something she hadn’t expected, and made her feel appreciated.

In the local convenience store, a man buying breakfast was conversing with the cashier, who mentioned that she is preparing to attend nursing school. He said, ‘You’ve probably broken enough hearts; it’s good you’re learning to fix them.’

Her smile extended from East to West.

All it took was a word.

Paul TN Chapman
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