In 1971, at the end of the 8th grade school year, my home room teacher, Sister Mary Barbara, asked me a profound question that haunts me to this day.

She was a tall woman who looked like she bench pressed 100 lbs. every day.  Not masculine, but strapping.  A force to reckon with.  Sister Barbara and I had been discussing my future and what I wanted to be when I grew up.  I told her I was considering becoming a nun.  After all, I had been around nuns for the past eight years, even working in the convent cleaning floors and helping with other chores.

She smiled slightly and said, “Really?  I don’t see that in you.  I figured you say something like, scientist or journalist.  Not a nun.”  She shook her head.

And after a pause, she said, “What will your legacy be?”

To this day, forty years later, I am still trying to figure that out.

When It’s Right, It’s Right

“You’ve Got Mail” is one of those movies that I will never get tired of watching.  Honestly, when it first came out in theaters, I had no interest in seeing it because of the storyline – a big bad chain bookstore putting a small independent bookseller out of business.  It was already starting to happen back then, and since I am in the publishing industry, I didn’t want to see in film what was a reality for some poor little bookstore that couldn’t compete with Borders (out of business this year), Crown (out of business year ago), or B&N.

On some flight from somewhere I can’t recall, the in-flight movie happened to be (you guessed it) “You’ve Got Mail”.  Ugh, I thought.  But it was a long flight and I was bored, so I put on the headphones and watched.

And then a funny thing happened at the end of the movie – I felt totally stupid for not having watched it before.  It was a darn good movie, and I wanted to see it again in the comfort of my own home with the interruptions of “would you care for more coffee” and people needing to climb over me to get to the lavatory.

Besides the storyline, there are many great and memorable lines in the movie.

Quote 1:
Joe Fox (Tom Hanks): It wasn’t … personal

Kathleen Kelly (Meg Ryan): What is that supposed to mean?  I am so sick of that.  All that means is that it wasn’t personal to you.  But it was personal to me.  It’s personal to a lot of people.  And what’s so wrong with being personal anyway?

Joe Fox: Uh, nothing.

Kathleen Kelly:  Whatever else anything is, it out to begin by being personal.

Quote 2:
Kathleen Kelly:  What will NY152 say today, I wonder. I turn on my computer. I wait impatiently as it connects. I go online, and my breath catches in my chest until I hear three little words: You’ve got mail. I hear nothing. Not even a sound on the streets of New York, just the beating of my own heart. I have mail. From you.

Quote 3:
Kathleen Kelly:  When you read a book as a child, it becomes a part of your identity in a way that no other reading in your whole life does.

Quote 4:
Kathleen Kelly:  [in an email to Joe Fox] The odd thing about this form of communication is that you’re more likely to talk about nothing than something. But I just want to say that all this nothing has meant more to me than so many somethings.

Quote 5:
Frank:  What about you?  Is there someone else?

Kathleen Kelly:  No.  No, but … but there’s the dream of someone else.

There is this chemistry between Joe Fox and Kathleen Kelly that so many people want for themselves.  Joe knows that his new mega-bookstore is the reason Kathleen’s bookstore has gone out of business.  She did what she could to preserve her store, but in the end she lost.  And while she blamed him and said some very nasty things to him, she still talked to him when they would see each other.  Why?  Because when it’s right, it’ right – no matter the circumstances.

At the end of the movie, after Joe has been “bumping into” her and they’ve been spending time together, Kathleen is supposed to meet her mystery internet “you’ve got mail” guy.  When it turns out that Joe is the guy, Kathleen says, “I wanted it to be you.  I wanted it to be you so badly.”

Because no matter what had happened between them as it related to their jobs/careers, their online relationship showed each of them who the other really was.  She put aside the fact that she lost her business because of him.  He put aside the nasty things she had said because he knew he deserved it.

So what does this teach us?  That if you have a deep, personal connection to someone, you can get over whatever bad things might happen between you.  When it’s right, it’s right.