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Tonight, while laying on my back beneath a ceiling fan, I picked out a single blade and watched it spin. I could follow one blade for two rotations before it blurred with the rest.

I wondered if that was how life worked? Is our focus on individuals limited–here for now, and then gone—lost back into the group we have assigned them to: “people we once knew” or “neighbors” or “family” or “strangers”? In turn, are we all lost to groups eventually?

In The Little Prince, a fox is tamed by the prince, and teaches him about the value of having one person, or fox, or even rose, become special so that they are never absorbed into the general mass again.

My husband’s uncle died this last week. I didn’t know him well, but I recall the time he asked me to help him cut melons at a family reunion he had organized. We talked and cut melons for several minutes. And I never forgot that he made me feel unique. Years later, when I needed a larger range to my pipe bells, I contacted him and he made me some, then sent them to me from Arizona—complete with a full set of mallets that he had hand crafted. And he wouldn’t hear of payment. He had emerged from the group of “uncles” by making me feel like it was just he and I that had connected through his gift.

This is what he taught me. Our time with individuals may be fleeting, but when we appreciate their uniqueness, and focus on them, we do something good. Maybe I can help someone feel valued (as he made me feel) by taking time out of my day just for them. I know those bells were not crafted quickly. But every time I use them, I will remember the lesson.