When an Email at 2:00 a.m. Changes Everything

Few of us really know the impact we are having on others

Mitch Ditkoff
3 min readNov 28, 2022


Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash

I t was a bone cold night in January, four hours after my wife and kids had gone to bed and I was sitting alone in my man cave with nothing but a laptop and the painful recognition that even though I had written five books, created a successful company, and supported my family for the past 15 years, I had yet to accomplish a single meaningful thing in my life.

This is a feeling most writers know all too well, the moon-howling moment when they recognize that their early promise of genius has not yet borne fruit — the kind of feeling, I imagine, at least partially responsible for Vincent Van Gogh cutting off his ear, a man who had sold only a single painting in his entire life, and to his brother, at that, a man he knew was buying mostly out of pity.

It was at precisely at this moment, too late to be early and too early to be late, that I just happened to glance down at my inbox and noticed an email coming in from someone whose name I did not recognize — a name with a lot of consonants and very few vowels

Clearly, this email wasn’t from a friend of mine. No. It was from a stranger, a man from Croatia, he explained, with a terminal disease – someone who had been reading my blog for the past five years and now that he had only three months left to live, wanted me know that last night’s posting had touched him in a way that filled his entire being with gratitude. An oasis it was for him, he explained — a place where he could rest, renew, and breathe.

This man, whose name I could not pronounce and whom I had never met, was writing to me at 2:00 a.m. to express his gratitude and request that no matter what happened in my life from this day forward, I continue to write no matter what.

At that moment, time stopped for me. Space, too. I just sat there, stunned, sobbing, my body shaking in a way I had never experienced before.

FOOD FOR BEYOND THOUGHT: Who of us doesn’t feel hopeless from time to time — useless, disillusioned, despairing — our grand hopes and dreams not having materialized in the way we imagined they would?



Mitch Ditkoff

Co-Founder of Idea Champions, Face The Music & Sage Catalysts. Author of Storytelling for the Revolution, Storytelling at Work, Unspoken Word and Free the Genie