I gladly accepted his gesture and handed him a folding table.
As we walked, I asked about his shirt, and he broke into a broad grin as he talked about the team enthusiastically. He told me that his son had recently played in a Nationals benefit against cancer.
We continued the small talk until we arrived at my church’s Relay for Life campsite in the middle of the high school football field. As the man put down the table, I thanked him profusely for helping. He merely shrugged and said, “Isn’t that what we’re all here for? To help each other out?”
I nodded in agreement then said goodbye as I turned to help the rest of my team set up for a day in the hot sun. But the man’s words stayed in my head.
About an hour later, the event had begun, and cancer survivors were making the first lap around the high school track while the rest of us clapped and cheered. Since several friends and acquaintances were walking, I don’t know why I was so surprised to see a relative stranger, the man in the Nationals shirt, walking among them.
I’ll probably never know his name, but I want to thank him for his reminder yesterday.
I’ve been stressed out for several weeks now about things over which I have no control and things which involve other people over which I have no control. And amid all that stress, I lost some perspective.
There were multiple incidents at yesterday’s Relay for Life that helped me put my life back into focus, but his words were the ones that made everything crystal clear.
Life isn’t about waiting for those few moments when everything falls into place and goes smoothly. If it were, we’d never be happy or grateful.
Life is about appreciating rich experiences made possible by people who are willing to share their limited hours with us. It’s about appreciating everyone who makes us smile and laugh, who lends us a helping hand and who trusts we will do the same for them.
I was surrounded by such people yesterday.
Relay for Life is intended to be a fundraiser for cancer research, and that’s what many people consider it. But to me, it’s not really about the money at all.
It’s about seeing diverse people join together for a common cause rather than tear each other up over political or other differences. It’s about spending hours on a track talking with friends and, even more importantly, talking with my daughter when there is absolutely no “to do” list to distract us. And it’s about remembering all those we’ve lost to cancer and honoring all those who have battled and survived it.
Most of all, it’s about life – embracing it, enjoying it and remembering what it’s all about. And that, as the man in the Nationals shirt reminded me, is simply about helping each other.