The Face of People

One year ago this week, I took a risk and started a new journey in my career; working for an entrepreneurial institute for something called the CEO Program. Here I sit, one year later in the Denver International Airport waiting on a delayed flight. I am travel weary, tired, and it’s my own fault; three and a half hours sleep just doesn’t work! I decided it was totally worth it, because I was with really amazing people learning their stories late into the night.

This past year, I have met literally hundreds and hundreds of people, and I remember many of them and if I have forgotten, it takes only a short time to reconnect/remember. What I realized last night as the hours passed so quickly, I find myself literally enthralled by the people I have met, and I am almost, in a way, addicted to it to wanting to know them and hear about their life.

This morning as I dropped off my rental car, the young man who greeted me at 6 am was so happy. I couldn’t help but let his joy lift my tired eyes. It was cold, brisk and gorgeous in the mountain town of Colorado Springs. When he asked if I enjoyed my stay, I said, of course, look around. To the right of me was a breathtaking sunrise, literally like from a painting, and to the left were the mountains. His response, “Yes, ma’am, this is my office every day, the front door and the backdoor!”  Now how about that for perspective!

Last night I sat around a table with six people and generally only one common theme between them,doing what’s right for kids in schools. I was witness to their passion, their joy, humor; they were passionate, caring, funny and loud, but all had incredible stories. Bo is a fifth generation family person in his community of Colorado and a school board member who has a superintendent who was his FAVORITE teacher growing up. John was the superintendent who had grown up in the district, sharing his experiences, just to name a few.

Then there was Tim, a man with the longest legs I’ve ever seen, rugged, weathered, radiating joy and passion. The first thing I noticed about him was that literally his eyes were smiling. I had heard that expression before, but this was the first time I saw it for myself. When I asked him if he had kids in the school system in which he was serving on the school board for the past 11 years; he said, yes, I have 458 of them. He personally has no “biological children”, but every single child in his district is well taken care of because of Tim. This man has lived in many places, done more jobs/careers and had more experiences than I will ever fathom in my lifetime. He shared about his family and I could see the deep emotions beneath the weathered, rugged face, and his eyes showed deep sadness. He cared about his brother and misses him. He loves the community he calls home across the country from his hometown. He is quite protective and bursting with pride for the girl that he has coached in archery/shooting and who will move toward being an Olympian in her sport. This man’s face, his smiling eyes, will never leave my memory. I will forever be changed, touched after spending time with him late into the night, learning from him, hearing about his life experiences. I pray that every person has the same opportunity in their life to meet someone like this.

At our core, we are people seeking relationships, seeking to belong, to be cared for, seeking to matter every day. This year has changed me deeply; it has taught me that every person has a story, passion about something in their life, people that they love and communities that they want to see thrive. When I close my eyes now, I see literally hundreds of faces of the people that I have had the privilege of meeting and who have allowed me to become part of their lives. It’s as breathtaking as the sunrise and the mountains were as I flew home.