One Brick At A Time This Old Man Changed My Life

Sometimes we are not paying enough attention to notice the people in our lives on a day-to-day basis. As a result we overlook those people who may potentially have a huge impact on our lives. I believe everyone lives a life that makes a difference and has importance. We may notice the same people everyday on the commute to work, at the store as we buy our food, or in our neighborhoods as we take an evening walk. What we may not always notice are the lives they have lived and how they can influence us in powerful and profound ways. Everyday people have grand stories to tell if we are paying attention and willing to listen. Blog #19 of “40 Blogs in 40 Days about 40 Podcasts” shares the scenario of one of those interactions for me.  

In some cases it is the very simple and small stories and interactions that have the potential to change our lives. It might not have much of an affect in that moment or in the following moments. It might take days, weeks, or even years before the benefits of the interaction unfold and blossom. In my case it was an impactful moment in my youth. But as the weeks and seasons transitioned into one another and time transformed into the past, I started to realize how powerful my interaction with this old man was to me. It was a very short interaction and seemed not much of a big deal at that time. But over time, as I grew up and out of my neighborhood, this one interaction had a powerful redirecting affect on my life. Sometimes it is the very small things that make a huge difference.

For me it is a memory of a very old man I saw on my paper route everyday when I was a child. Every day I would ride my bike or walk my route delivering the newspapers. One day I had to start delivering to a new customer. The funny thing was there was no house on the plot of land where the newspaper-box was posted. Yet, as I started to deliver the paper, the newspaper from the day before was gone. So everyday I kept delivering the paper to that box. Then one day I noticed a section of the yard had been cleared. Then a few days later there was concrete poured into sections for what would soon be a home. Finally one day I noticed what seemed like a very old man walking slowing, moving things around and, getting things ready.

paperboy deliver newspaper

When AlejAndro was a young boy having a paper route and delivering the newspaper was a way to earn money.

Everyday I would see this one old man working by himself. Then one day I realized what he was doing. This one old man was building a house all by himself. And everyday I would see the subtle difference from the previous day’s work. Everyday he would make ever-so-slow progress in building a brick house. Days turned into weeks and weeks turned into a month and his payment for the month of newspapers appeared in the newspaper-box. This pattern went on for months and months. Everyday I would walk or bike my route, deliver the paper, and see his progress. Once a month I would trade the newspaper for payment in an envelope he left in the box for me. All I ever saw of him was he was working and he was moving slowly. Days became weeks and then months became years and I grew into young adulthood.

delivering newspaper mailbox

Once a Month AlejAndro would put the paper in the box and take the envelop with the month’s payment.

I often look back on the one and only true interaction we shared. I am not sure why he did not leave the payment in the box that one month when I was a young boy. But I had to go ask him for his monthly payment as I did every month with all my other customers. It felt weird to me to enter his house upon his request because the walls were not built and there was barely a roof. As I looked around I noticed a wood burning stove and a small sleeping mat on the ground. I was stunned to think he slept here at night. That stunned shift in my thinking inspired me to ask him a question. And considering how long it took him to find his wallet as I entered, I think he wanted me to ask a question. He then answered my questions with a soft tone of sincerity and shared with me a small part of his story.

Brick laying bricklayer

One brick at a time this old man built an entire house by himself.

As I grew older in life I look back and realized he was not trying to impact me. There was no showing off or pride or the desire to impress me with his words or his work on the house. He was just doing what he was doing and being who he was. He built that house one brick at a time. And with one brick at a time, in my memory of watching him everyday and speaking with him once, he made a profound impact on me and slowly changed my life.

To hear the story of meeting this old man who changed my life I invite you to click and listen to my One Hand Speaks Storytelling Podcast Episode OHS018. Please feel free to share this blog or my podcast and I ask you to offer a comment with your opinion and feedback! Thanks!

Leave a Reply Text

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *