The Perry Way

Luke Perry in front of a microphone at Comicon last year

When I was young, I dreamed of making a big impact on the world. How I’d do it was vague. But the difference would be on a grand scale. Now that I’m older, I’m more focused on the micro than the macro. It’s about making a difference in small moments on a regular basis. That’s why I was so touched by this story about Luke Perry.

Perry, as you likely know, died this week at 52 following a massive stroke. He starred in shows I never watched; Beverly Hills 90210, Riverdale and others. But you didn’t have to see his work to know who he was. And by all accounts, he was a really good guy. After Perry’s death, Colin Hanks told a story that moved me.

Perry didn’t save 100 orphans from a burning building. But he made an unpleasant situation better for people he didn’t even know. He put in some effort, just because.

No one tells the story like Colin Hanks, and you can read it at I will paraphrase for you non-link-clickers.

Hanks and his wife were on a packed plane where two young children were out of control. Fighting, crying, fussing – their parents seemed powerless to stop them. This went on for some time.

Shortly before landing, a man came out of first class and approached the kids. Out of his pocket he pulled a balloon. He blew it up, tied it off and handed it to the children. They fell silent, entranced by the bearded man in sunglasses. As grateful passengers watched. the man silently returned to his seat.

At baggage claim, Hanks recognized the bearded balloon man: Luke Perry. They struck up a conversation, each knowing (of course) who the other was. Hanks asked Perry about the balloon trick. Perry said he always carried a couple of balloons on a flight, to calm screaming kids.


While other passengers got pissed off and shot daggers at the parents, Perry made things better. That’s the kind of difference to make in the world. Just make it better.

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