I See The Light In You

I see the light in you.

That simple namaste expression breathes life. It levels us all from our various roles and ties us together collectively as humankind. We all have struggles, fears, dreams, addictions, trauma, bills to pay...

The list never ends.

So much weighs us down as we plod through our days in the hopes that a mere second of it may result in unexpected kindness. We smile and wave at the stranger that passes us driving on the road. We feel a tender twinge in our stomachs when we spy the elderly couple splitting a hamburger with a plastic butter knife in the greasy diner. Our spirits are renewed when we can sit in the company of good conversation with our hands wrapped around a hot mug of coffee. We are all trying to find the light. The light in ourselves. The light in others. And if we are patient enough, the light in those that don't like us.

The thief of light hides within the shadows of that long list up above. The thief of light lets the full weight of the list pull us down into darkness. It is successful in "othering" ourselves or others that walk different lives, look different, or harbor differing ideologies than ourselves. When we are overwhelmed with the weight, we lose our ability to find empathy not only for others, but for ourselves. We grow angry and frustrated. We attempt to funnel that frustration into a worthy cause, and inadvertently end up hurting others instead. Without empathy and light, we walk blind and wounded, creating unhealthy atmospheres wherever we go, trying to prove that we are right and good. The thing is, and always was, we were light...we were good...at the start.

I often find hope in Tony Bourdain. He traveled the world with the weight of his own life and the world resting on his shoulders. You can look at a photo of him and see that life wasn't always kind, or that he didn't always see kindness in the world, but he traveled far in search of that smidgen of light and kindness, writing in the vein of human empathy whereever he found it. At one point, he adequately summed up the search when he wrote:

"Maybe that’s enlightenment enough: to know that there is no final resting place of the mind; no moment of smug clarity. Perhaps wisdom is realizing how small I am, and unwise, and how far I have yet to go."

By seeing the light in the world and those that inhabit it, Tony revealed to me that to see the light is to be humbled, made low, no arrogance and self-importance, but to know there is much to learn from others. And then, in even more poignant words that are balm to my sole, he left the world behind with these words:

"As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life —and travel — leaves marks on you. Most of the time, those marks — on your body or on your heart — are beautiful. Often, though, they hurt.” 

The list is never going to go away, but instead, will likely grow longer and heavier as we age. Life is never going to be void of hurt, especially as we choose to seek out the light. I have not quite figured out how to cope and fight for my own joy while trying so hard to bring joy to others. There is a deep desire within me to ensure that the people I know realize how important they are, how capable they are, how strong I see them. I mess up a lot. I overstep and can be overtly critical in my haste to bring peace and change to a tense atmosphere. I can't force light into people's lives. That's the painful truth I have to accept. I can be light...take it with me...and some may see it, some may not.

For now, I sip my coffee and reflect on Tony's words and the hurt he knew and the light he was. I can remind myself that I have much to learn, and to be slow to respond to others in arrogant ways. My size will be small, searching for more knowledge and understanding in others. I will remember that life will not be easy, it will leave its marks, it will hurt, but it will beautiful. And I can choose to know there is light in me and choose to see the light in others.



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