When I was young, once of my teachers said something that has stayed with me for the past 20 years. It was the most unexpected thing at the time after I’d given him years worth of reasons to write me off. I’d been an average student through most of college, and he’s been witness to some of my least inspiring performances. Now I felt like I’d figured out what I was there to do, and I was trying to simply be better and do better. To know that it hadn’t gone unnoticed meant a lot to me then and at many times since, but it’s troubled me that he might not know how grateful I am for it.

Last week, I wrote him a long overdue email just to say hi and thank you. I’ve thought about doing it many times over the years, but I’ve never been able to make myself. It always seemed a little creepy and maybe embarrassing, and as time went by, maybe even a little obsessive. I have no idea whether he’ll remember who I was, and I’m quite sure he won’t remember the event in question. But sending that email still felt like it mattered, though I’d have a hard time explaining why.

If there’s someone who’s helped you in the past, and you think they may not know what it meant, thank them.

If you’ve achieved success by building on someone else’s work, whether you know them personally or not, thank them.

If there’s someone who has lived a life that you use as an example for your own, thank them.

Thank a friend you haven’t seen in years for the good times and support.

Thank a teacher or a friend of your parents for speaking to you like an adult.

Thank an author or an artist or an athlete who’s inspired you to be more.

Thank someone who makes you look smarter than you are by maintaining an open source project you use all the time.

It takes 10 minutes, and there’s never going to be a better time than today.

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