The real reward of sharing my story
I’ve never wanted to measure my life by money, which lately has been an overly idealistic philosophy; nonetheless, I believe in measuring my life by new experiences and new opportunities. Books are a very bad business plan, so often, my biggest reward is hearing the stories of how I’ve made a difference. Fortunately, there are many stories. Sometimes I think of myself as planting the seeds of dreams, and to me, these stories are the fruits of my labor. I love feeling like I get to be part of people’s new adventures.
One recent story comes from an 88-year-old woman named Jean. She saw my bicycle leaning outside a store and insisted her driver stop and let her out. She “ran” into the store and told me that she had bought my book last summer and “just absolutely loved it” and that she had bought a copy for all her friends. She found it so inspiring, she said, that after reading it she added up all her frequent flier miles from a lifetime of travel, and not long after that, she made a solo journey to the other side of the world to Bangladesh. Her eyes were still on fire with the excitement of her recent trip. She rattled off a few amazing stories and told me of her new dream to write a book about her adventures. She says to me, “I want to call my book ‘An old lady and 3 Bangladesh men’.” Then she winks and says with a smile, “Do you think that will sell?”
I know I have inspired many people, several of whom are attempting to ride bicycles around the world, an idea that used to be unheard of, and sometimes I sit back and wonder about all those people I’ve inspired who are trekking through the world, inspiring even more people like Jean, who will inspire even more, and the thought warms my heart and boggles my mind. Wouldn’t it be amazing to see our life’s influence ripple around the world?
It was a big day for me. They say you can’t return home, and in a way, you can’t because you aren’t the same person anymore. Despite what I just said, it was great to return home and share my story with so many childhood friends and new friends.
Update: Since I originally wrote this, I have gathered many more stories of inspiration. Here is one that really touched my heart. It’s a letter from a young boy.
I’m from Waukesha Saratoga Stem Academy. When I was in 2nd grade (I’m now in 8th) Scott Stoll came to our school and made a book of pure amazement. Ruby the Red Worm was awesome. My drawing wasn’t in the book, but I didn’t care. I never said thanks for coming to our school. So here it is — Thanks for coming to Randall in 2010. it was so much fun, you’ve given me so many ideas since then… Since meeting your I’ve wanted to learn more about species and how they help the world. I found out my passions, I want to be a marine biologist. ~ (reprinted with permission)