coin tossWhen you write something, and give it away, do you ever give any thought to what happens to it? Several years ago, I wrote a letter to my students. It was their senior year and I wanted, more than anything, to give them something that would help them, somehow, in the world they were about to enter. Mostly, I wanted to touch them one last time before I lost them.

I will never forget those students, but I did forget the letter. I didn’t even keep a copy because, after all, it was for them, not for me. Then today, one of my students from that year brought the letter to my attention. He said it had helped him in tough times and I nearly cried. The thing is, writers spend their careers trying to say things that matter. We write short stories, essays, articles, novels and a host of other texts with the aim of making a difference. I was awed and humbled to find that, at least once, I had managed it.

Was what I wrote great literature? Probably not. But it achieved its purpose and so I count it a success. As to its quality, I’ll let you be the judge.

Do you see?

Sometimes the only difference between winner and loser is that the winner ran three steps further.

Further, not faster.

Sometimes the distance between success and failure is so small as to be unmeasurable, it is only the space between one breath and the next. One last try before you give up purchases victory.

Sometimes the divergence between a good day and a bad one is determined strictly by how much control we allow another to have over us, in who we trust, rather than how much.

Sometimes the disparity between opportunity and loss is contained strictly within the confines of our glance, and whether we move forward or are held back depends solely on how we perceive our own condition. Every time, you are the one with the choice. The decision in each case, regardless of how big, small, easy, hard, clear or confusing, remains yours, no matter what the world – or your own fear – tells you. Life turns every day on a swiftly tossed, ten cent coin, and it is completely up to you whether heads, or tails, is the winner.

So don’t be so quick to accept the words the world tosses at you: winner, loser, right, wrong, success, failure, easy, hard, yes, no. Hold that option up to the light. Examine it carefully, all sides, both shiny and dark, bumpy, rough and smooth before you toss it, upward to the sky. For decide you will. Because even not deciding is a decision, there is no other way to keep breathing. -CLRoman

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5 thoughts on “Long Ago Rag

  1. I had a similar experience. I had a boy in my tutor group whose father had committed suicide. I wrote the boy a letter, which I gave him in a private moment. And I forgot it until thirty years later when I had an email from him. I can’t remember what I said in the letter, but he said that he had kept it, and that it had helped him through a hard time.

    1. It’s humbling and exhilarating at the same time, to know you’ve made a bit of a difference to someone. Thanks Jack for sharing your experience. I love stories like yours. It renews my faith.

      1. You don’t go into teaching for the financial reward. If you’re lucky you gain a kind of immortality by becoming a part of other peoples’ lives. I remember the people who taught me- with much gratitude- and I always will.

  2. Love it! Love It!! Love it!!! Thank you for sharing! I am so happy that your student shared with you what a treasure you are… I have known it for decades! ❤ U! ((HUGS))

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