Long, long ago, when I was just a freshman in high school, I was surprised to find a note tucked behind the latch on my school locker. It was written neatly on an index card folded in half vertically.
I didn’t know what it was, but I had a suspicion—a delirious, delightful suspicion. At age fourteen, having never experienced the charms of epistolary romance, I believed I had received a love letter.
The note stayed in my pocket all morning. I resolved not to read it until my lunch break, when I could examine it without being interrupted. My excitement grew hour by hour until it was almost too much to bear. When at last the bell rang for lunch, I ran home, bolted my food and dashed upstairs to my bedroom to read the note.
It wasn’t a love letter, but it turned out to be something even better.
A student in my Spanish class—I’ll call her Socrates—had written the message on the index card. It was a note of encouragement, an expression of appreciation ending with God bless you or some other kindly wish.
I kept that note for years.
I haven’t seen Socrates since she graduated from high school six or seven years ago, but I’m still grateful for her note. It was an encouragement at a time when I felt uncertain and out of place.
Why have I dredged up this story from the distant past?
It occurred to me that there are a lot of people whom I admire and appreciate. If I were somehow killed—run over by a car or shot in a robbery or murdered by Colonel Mustard in the library with the lead pipe—some of those people might never know how much they were admired and appreciated.
Inspired by the memory of Socrates’ note, I set about writing RNA.
RNA stands for Random Notes of Appreciation, by the way. Please don’t confuse it with ribonucleic acid.
(While we’re on the subject, please don’t mix up TMTF and TMNT.)
Writing RNA gave me a deeper thankfulness for some of the people in my life. If I’m someday slain by a car or a robber or the Mustard of my doom, some of those people will know that I admired and appreciated them. Most importantly, there is always the chance that some of those people were encouraged by the notes they received, just as I was encouraged by the note from Socrates long ago.
(I award +75 bonus points to anyone who caught the Fawful reference in the last paragraph.)
This is just a guess, but you can probably think of people whom you admire and appreciate—people who may not know how much you admire and appreciate them—people who may treasure a note from you for years.
I encourage you to try writing a few RNA as we begin the new year. It’s quick, easy and simple, and it’s amazing how much it can encourage, comfort and uplift.