December 29, 2011

The New Year's Resolution

The Cab Driver


October 5, 2011.

My Uncle Joe is riding in the back of a cab in rural China. His iPhone goes off. Again. Again. Again.

He pulls his phone of out of his bag, worried something happened at home.

Instead, in our ever-connected world, it’s multiple sources – friends to CNN – informing him of the death of Steve Jobs.

Uncle Joe stares out the window for a second. Because it's one of those have-to-talk-to-someone moments, he asks the cab driver if he’s a fan of Apple.

“Of course,” the cab driver says.

“Bad news. Steve Jobs just died,” my uncle says.

The cab driver promptly pulls over to the side of the road, buries his head in his hands, and stays there for a full five minutes. When he pulls himself together enough to drive, he does so with tears in his eyes.
I heard this story yesterday for the first time. Coincidentally, it was also when I was pulling together my list of New Year’s resolutions. New Year’s resolutions are a big deal to me, and I’m probably one of the few who actually tries to stick to them.

My resolutions are never fluffy or easy. I generally pick a bar slightly higher than I think I can achieve and set them there. As I sat down to start compiling my list, I started with the same resolution I have every year: Go someplace I have never been. This is my favorite goal, and one I’ve never missed. (This is a great resolution, by the way, because it doesn’t mean that you have to go far to hit it. For those of us in California it may mean a drive up/down the coast to a little beach town to read a book while watching the waves – I promise they’ll somehow look so different from your hometown’s waves. For those in the Midwest go to the spa at the American Club in Kohler, take a Frank Lloyd Wright tour outside of Chicago, or spend a day walking around Lake Geneva looking at the mansions.)

The rest of my resolution list, however, wasn’t so easy: There were Bungalux goals to hit, real estate deals to close, novels to edit and sell, screenplays to get to producers. I needed to serve better in tennis, run faster, work later.

I was already panicked, and it wasn’t even New Year’s yet.
This morning, while I was on a plane, I couldn’t get the story about the cab in China and Steve Jobs out of my mind.

And then I realized why. Could it be that site traffic, while intoxicating, and real estate deals, while lucrative, aren’t getting to the meat of the New Year’s resolution? A lightening bolt hit. Instead of complicated formulas involving unique visitors, escrows closed, first printing rights, and box office successes, is it possible the New Year’s resolution can be summed up much more simply?

The answer, I think, may be “yes.”

Steve Jobs was meaningful because he changed billions of lives, if only a little bit. How many opportunities do I miss to change someone’s life? How many times could I be a better friend, sister, or coworker? If the “cab in China” story is to be believed, every time I pass up an opportunity to touch someone it’s one less person who will pull over to the side of the road someday when they find out I’m gone.

I’m not Type B enough to eliminate all my resolutions this year, but I’m going to push a new one to the top: I’m going to make an effort to change one or two people’s lives. The “cab in China” story taught me something: You don’t have to do all that much to change someone, to give someone something beautiful to remember you by. In fact, the Chinese cab driver never met Steve Jobs, he didn’t speak the same language, and western China is worlds away from Silicon Valley. Let’s all try to do small and big things for others this year. If we touch someone’s life, even a tiny bit, it can mean the difference between being remembered and forgotten.

Happy New Year’s to all of our Bungalux fans. Thanks for making 2011, our inaugural year, so successful. And from our Bungaluxes to yours, we wish you an over-the-moon 2012.


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