The famous biographer James Boswell (known best for his acclaimed biography of Samuel Johnson) spoke often of a special childhood memory—a day spent fishing with his dad. Even as an adult, Boswell would reminisce about the time, citing the many things his father taught him during the hours together.
Many years later, after both James and his dad had passed away, the older man’s journals were found. Someone looked up what he had written in his diary on the day that had meant so much to his son.
The father had written, “Gone fishing today with my son; a day wasted.”
What can we learn from this anecdote?
- Don’t underestimate the potential impact of time spent with other people. Even though you may not be a famous person (James’ father was not), a small kindness or time spent with others can deeply affect their lives.
- You may never know the impact you have on other people—they may not tell you and you would not suspect it—but acts of kindness are always appropriate and usually bear fruit.
- Though several people are experiencing the same thing, each will see and interpret it differently. For instance, though multiple people may enter the same room at the same time, their experiences may differ drastically. When an interior designer and a security expert enter the same room, they likely will have vastly different thoughts. Let’s not be quick to judge the elder Boswell, because we don’t know the back-story of that day. I can only imagine that he would have been pleased to know how much his son enjoyed their day together.
My biggest take away from this anecdote is that I’m going to slow down my pace and spend more quality time with family and friends.