Earlier this week, I was listening to one of my favorite artists, TobyMac, who I’ve listened to since I was ten years old. “Twenty One” played, and I realized there was more to the song than his usual work. A quick online search showed his son, Truett, had passed away from a drug overdose.

Truett, who I always knew as “Tru-dog” died at the age of 21. After reading the news, I listened to the song with fresh ears and found myself in tears; hearing the lament of a father who had to bury his son.

Instinctively, I went to write “I don’t know why it hit me so hard…” but had to correct myself. The pain hit me incredibly hard because Toby is a fellow human being, who just went through the pain of burying his own son. As a son who has buried his father, as well as a man who is expecting a son, I found myself woven between his pain, my own pain, and the hope that my son and I will have a long future together – free of this sort of pain.

If there’s anything I’ve learned in the past few years, it’s that people matter – and so do their hearts and emotions. Even the most well put together individual can be hiding the deepest hurts, pain, and scars.

For a while, I’ve pondered writing notes to some of my heroes; letting them know how much their life has impacted me. Tonight, I decided to write one of them a short note, expressing my appreciation for the love, work, and effort they put into their creation.

Shortly after hitting “send” – to somebody who I’m not sure will ever see my note due to their popularity, I logged into my website and noticed there was a short message from somebody who I don’t know, who told me they appreciated my writing.

It touched my heart to read their words, while reminding me to take inventory of the many people who have touched my life; often more than they may have realized.

During my time working in tech, I had the pleasure of working with a guy who I’ll call “Rockstar” – because that’s what he is. Covered in tattoos and sporting a bald head, he’d taken a break from musician life and decided to throw his hat into the tech world for a while.

I always appreciated our conversations, and learning about his life as a musician. His stories impressed me, especially after learning that he had played in front of crowds of over 20,000 people at a time.

Our conversations stirred something inside of me; partially my own taste for heavy metal (‘Entombment of a Machine’ pig-squeal-kind-of-metal) as well as the feeling of passion. Rockstar had it for the music, and I could tell that his throne on this planet wasn’t behind a laptop at a tech company, but screaming his guts out on stage and stirring up a crowd into a frenzy.

During a business trip, I asked him if he wouldn’t mind putting together a playlist of his favorite tracks for me. I was going through a difficult time (for a variety of reasons) and the playlist he made for me was one of the rays of light that encouraged me during a really difficult chapter of my life.

I don’t think I ever stopped to really thank him for that playlist; or tell him that I’d fall asleep listening to it for weeks. Why? Because he reached out with an act of kindness, and put together a playlist that even Lucifer himself couldn’t have topped.

Rockstar recently released a track from his latest music project, Magdalene, and it put a smile on my face to see him back in the saddle; screaming his guts out to some of the best music I’ve heard in a while – though I doubt it’s your cup of tea.

Secretly, I hope that he someday lets me join him on stage so I can try my hand at screaming into a microphone…it never hurts to dream.

Today, I was reminded of the deep impact others can have on you. Whether it is from a stage, a YouTube channel, or a budding rock god who took time out of his day to make me a playlist – I’ve come to realize just how much of an impact the smallest gesture can have on somebody during a rough moment.

You don’t forget those moments in life – or the people who helped you on your way.

To the people who have encouraged me, picked up my broken pieces, and listened during times where I needed somebody to offer their ears – not their prescriptions…

Thank you.

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