I opened an email that told me of the sad passing of someone I hadn’t known personally. I had, however, been lucky enough to attend a lecture they’d given, and I had read one of their books which had really helped me enormously at a very early stage of my research.
Not knowing this person intimately, the only opinion I could form was, what a nice man, what a shame, they seemed so young, what a loss to his world of work where he was of course a real expert.
But the more I thought about this man during the day, the more I thought … I wish I’d emailed him to let him know how much I’d learnt from his lecture, how helpful his book had been in guiding me in my research. And in checking, just to make sure, that I wasn’t wishing I’d done this to satisfy any particular need in myself to provide feedback, I concluded that I genuinely, and very simply wished that I’d told this person what an impact they’d had on me at a key stage of my learning and development.
I imagine that this particular academic received many accolades during his lifetime – and why would one more, from an equally anonymous devotee make any difference to his path, his fabulousness, his self-awareness? Well, maybe it would have done. Maybe it would have impacted, even if just in the slightest way, for … don’t we all appreciate a thank you?
Next time, I won’t hold back. I’ve decided that people who make a difference to me are more than worthy of my letting them know.