I grew up in a house where the news was important. Stacks of newspapers sat beside my dad’s chair. Each was read cover to cover before the 5 p.m. news broadcast. At 6 p.m. we switched channels to hear the stories from a different station. The evening always ended with the 10 p.m. news before late-night TV.
What I remember most from all of those shows and headlines, was one particular anchor who retired a few years back after 50 years in the industry. Dennis Anderson’s closing remarks every night on WDIO 10/13 in Duluth/Superior were this: “Goodnight everybody, and be kind.” Be kind. He could pick any tagline in the world to tell his story, but this one was repeated night after night for 50 years. I remember it, and I wanted to live it. It’s two little words, and so completely important.
We all have a story to tell. We each can change lives, influence others, and make a difference in the world we live in. I remember picking up food from a drive-thru a few years back. The person had my order ready and was so incredibly happy and kind. When I drove away, I actually said out loud to myself, “Gee, I want to work at Taco Bell.” While changing jobs was not the answer to my problems, I found an honest moment where one person made my day. I felt seen, respected, and cared for.
It was a small moment, but one that was wholeheartedly needed at the time. That person, wherever they are today, made a difference. I am often reminded in the quietest of moments that what we do matters. One of my favorite quotes comes from St. Teresa of Calcutta, “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” No matter where we are, or what we do, we have the opportunity to spread kindness.
If you had to pick a tagline, mantra, or message that summed up everything you ever wanted to share with the world, what would it be? I asked this question recently on Facebook and received so many great answers and advice. Some people said to talk about forgiveness, love, self-care, being true to yourself, bravery, and of course, kindness.
Do we want to make the world better because of our presence? Have we already impacted others by our words, actions, or even by our smile? I know as hard as I try, I’ve had times of complete meltdown and brokenness and hope and pray the neighbors didn’t just hear me yell. I’m not perfect. No one is. I do know every day is another opportunity to start again.
Maybe today is the day that someone hears the one thing you have to say. Maybe today, your smile (hidden behind the COVID mask) will make a difference for someone else. Maybe your honesty and realness can help others heal. You have a gift, maybe it’s waiting patiently to be unearthed.
What I know about time is that it marches on. Each year as I get older, instead of feeling sad or surprised by new lines on my face and hands, I feel grateful. I’m thankful that I can walk into a building and know where I’m going, simply because I’ve been there before. Even if it is a new place and experience, it is not the first “first” I’ve ever had.
There is a comfort in knowing what we know, and being seasoned from the past. I still have giddy excitement for the future, butterflies for sure. I look for new experiences and opportunities to keep growing and learning and helping.
For the past seven years, I’ve had an amazing opportunity to write a monthly article. This one, for now, will be my last. I’m sure I’ll never run out of words, (as my husband would attest), but my focus and future are changing, and new opportunities are on the horizon.
I don’t know what I want people to remember the most, but I might just have to borrow from the great Dennis Anderson, a retired news anchor from Duluth. It’s been a pleasure to serve the last several years. Thanks for reading. “Goodnight everybody, and be kind.”
Kelly Brevig is Suicide Educational Services Coordinator for Evergreen Youth & Family Services, Inc.