The napkin story, part 2

These Napkinisms have touched people in a lot of different ways. Some laugh. Some people cry. Some people share memories. Others share hopes and dreams. One lady wrote and told me that she was reconsidering her decision NOT to have kids, because she never thought being a parent could be so much fun! You see, it turns out she didn’t have a very happy childhood. She was abused and made to feel like she was worthless, unforgivable, and unloveable. These notes opened a window into a reality she only thought possible on television or fiction books.

These napkins. These ridiculously silly and on-the-verge-of-profane napkins.

Most people are not as affected as she was — they are simply being reminded of characters in their own stories that influenced them in some way. Like my dad did for me.

When I was in the Ninth Grade, I got cut from my school’s basketball team. I deserved to be cut. I wasn’t very good. Nonetheless, I was devastated, and my dad knew that I was upset. That night, he gave me one of the single greatest gifts I have ever received.

After I had gone to bed, cheeks still wet with tears, he wrote me a note and taped it to the outside of my bedroom door so that I would see it the next morning:

Hey, Buddy:
Today is going to be a great day. 

It’s your day. No one and nothing can make your day anything other than what you want it to be. If the weather calls for rain, decide now that you will enjoy being wet. If the test score is low, work hard to make sure the next one is higher. If treated unfairly for something, smile and be thankful for the many things you’ve not been caught for. 

Attitude is everything. 
Today is not yet anything. 
Fill it with laughter.

—Dad

I kept that note for a long time. Somewhere along the way, I lost the original, but the idea of that note – and the words he wrote – have stuck with me. Hardly a week goes by that I don’t think about him and the simple, yet increasingly meaningful few minutes he took to encourage me and reveal some truth about what really matters.

He didn’t set out to change the course of history when he wrote that note. He just wanted to change that day.

Likewise, I didn’t set out to gain a bunch of followers on Instagram, or to create a TED Talk, or write a book, or anything more significant than making my kids smile at the lunch table. But that’s the beauty of it, right? That’s why it works.

Doing something great doesn’t require doing something grand. Read that again: Doing something great doesn’t require doing something grand.

That’s true in advertising; it’s true with your families; with your friends; in your dreams; with everything. It’s just plain true.

So, I’m going to keep writing notes on paper towels every morning in a simple attempt to make my kids smile, blush, laugh, or take just a minute to reflect on how much I adore them. Every day.

It’s the least I can do.

Check out the Napkinisms blog for updates on the project.

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