When I started working at CollegeClub, my very first project was the re-launch of our online dating service, Match U., and let me tell you, there is nothing more fun than playing virtual cupid! I have a LOT of “favorite” parts of working for CC…but getting to read the “Success Stories” from members about how Match U. found them a best friend, significant other, or even a spouse would put the stupidest grin on my face for hours. I still to this day receive about three letters a day *many of them with pictures of the couples*…and secretly… I like to pretend that I played a role *no matter how insignificant* in bringing those people together by developing the service they met through. People always ask why I was SO passionate about working on CC? It was because what WE did, what we created — it changes lives, everyday. It was the one part of CC I REALLY hated to say goodbye to….
…BUT imagine my surprise when I started to get letters in my inbox with messages like, “okay! I’ve been waiting on all these things to fall into place, but now I’m gonna just do it! Thanks for pushing me!” and “the book you recommended “The Alchemist” changed my life.” and “I’ve saving my money right now and will hopefully be pursuing my own globe trot about a year. Thank you for inspiring….”.
Inspiration? The idea that anything I’ve said has been an “inspiration” to anyone honestly shocks me. This whole project has been for my own personal enjoyment, I love doing this, it’s just my idea of fun! But these letters that I’m suddenly receiving…mean more to me than….well, why don’t I share MY story of inspiration…
Around March of last year, I was on this little ferry boat on the Southern Coast of Brazil, a few hours south of Rio near an island called Ilha Grande. There I met a group of Aussies…and one of the guys was named Saxon. Saxon didn’t say a word for the first few hours that I sat next to him. But I could NOT keep my eyes off him. He had this calmness and peace about him that told me he had “seen” and “heard” enough things in his travels that he had learned the values of listening and quiet observation. That look that I saw in his eyes…that I had never seen before…was amazing, AND inspiring….
Anyway, “complications” arose with the boat and there was no way we were gonna make it back to catch our connecting ferry to the mainland. My pack, money, passport…all were locked up at a hostel hours away. All I had was my bikini. Two of the girls I was with decided to try to make it back to the mainland. I decided to spend the night with the Aussie boys on this essentially deserted (one extended family lived there) part of the island. I waved the ferry boy and his boat on…knowing full well, that he was probably not going to come back, and there was a good chance I was going to miss my flight home to the States.
I could write a book about that that night on the island…but in short…that night, was one of the the best of my life. I can’t even begin to describe the magic that was present. Although I remember all the sights, smells and sensations of that night as if it were yesterday, I do not remember the details of my short conversations with Saxon…except that he had been traveling about a year and half at that point. But Saxon inspired me. That “look” that he had in his eyes…I wanted it. It was that day that I made some serious promises to myself in regards to what exactly was going to happen in the next year. I wrote them all out and sat back and smiled in confidence of the wonderful decisions I had just made. All I had to do… was make them happen. Which leads me up to today, where I am finally about to realize those notes made in my travel journal about a year ago.
The day I announced my resignation to CC, I e-mailed Saxon for the 1st time and explained to him what my plans were. I told him exactly how he inspired me and expressed my appreciation. This is what he wrote back:
“Thank you for the greatest compliment one could receive. Inspiration is a powerful thing and, to the soul, more precious than all the diamonds on sandy African beaches. I hold my inspiration in the highest regard because with all of them collectively you can move the world. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.”
So I understand the power of inspiration. And if I have sent out one message to one person that has moved them a fraction of how I was moved that day in Brazil about a year ago, I will be hopelessly happy…and sporting that same stupid grin I get when reading those Match U. success stories. So don’t thank me. Let me thank YOU.