Meet Tom Smith. When my dad died I formed a relationship with Tom that made him feel like my second father. He was a janitor at my school, but, really, was a wiseman in disguise. Every day, he laughed, talked, and taught me about the world. He helped me get my first passport and opened up the entire world to me by encouraging me to travel. He would frequently go to foreign countries and talk to cab drivers and store clerks and get to know real people. He visited homes of strangers in South America and schools in China because he was willing to talk to them and get to know them and they sensed he was interested in them. He LOVED life and loved people and always enjoyed each day. When he came across a hardship at work, he would take it in stride and never utter a bad word. He died 30 months ago and left a void in my heart that might never be filled. However, he taught me that the world is mine and that travel will expand my mind and my perspectives like no other experience. Thanks to Tom, Walt and I have traveled to Europe 12 times. Thanks to Tom, my mom went to Europe several times and to China. He was brave, and true, and honest, and positive...qualities I often lack.
If I could just wake up each day and view life and people like Tom did, I would be happier and so would the people around me. I would be proactive instead of reactive. I would feel a connection to people instead of a fear of them. I would view the beauty of the world instead of focusing on the drudgery. This is a message I heard from my father and from Tom, and this is my ongoing goal, my desire for personal reform.