November 18, 2020
In the charming suburban neighborhood where I live, the trash gets picked up every week, early Monday morning. up. Most people who live on this very pretty, carefully landscaped street, bring the pales down to the curb on Sunday night. Invariably however, Monday morning arrives and there’s one or two more bags to add to the heap. This is not a story about trash, it’s a story about how we see the value of every moment we’re given. It’s a story about bringing light in to the darkness. It’s a story about how we can create magic moments and make healing happen.
On a recent Monday morning, I was already worrying that the trash trucks would roll down our street and the remaining three small bags would not make it out the door. I intentionally placed them at the front door, so when I came down the stairs, early Monday morning, it would be my first order of domestic business! Even before my decaf!
The weather is changing so I grabbed my hat, gloves and a warm fleece coat. I figured that for the 60 seconds I would be outside, that would be more than enough gear to keep me warm. As I’m leaving my front door, I see my neighbor, who lives directly across the street, leaving his side door, schlepping a pale down to the curb. Either the pale was extremely heavy or he was exceptionally tired, maybe even sad. He had that energy that said, “OK now, one foot in front of the other, that’s all I need to do right now”.
The air was crisp, blustery and cold. The whimsy made me do it, and I waved to my neighbor and then blurted out in a very friendly manner, “I think winter is on its way. No more of those gorgeous 70 degree days for a while” His chin went from buried down deep in his chest, to head lifted, and a smile even adorned his face. He replied with a friendly remark in kind, and this man looked like a completely different person than the one who first emerged from his side door 60 seconds before.
So what’s the big deal? What’s this about anyway? It’s about living in the moment. It’s about observing with careful attention what’s going on around us and seizing these fleeting opportunities where your gut tells you, yes, you can make a positive difference, and leaning right into it. And not falling into the trap of thinking, “Oh what’s my few words going to matter anyway”? Or thinking, “I don’t want to disturb the person, it’s just too early.” Sometimes, a little bit of healthy risk taking can take a mundane moment and turn it in to a connection that brings joy and shines light for many moments thereafter. This is one way we can have an impact on lifting the veil of darkness and bring light in to the spaces that surround us everywhere.
How do we choose to use the moments of our life? Are we conscious of them, or are we moving about on auto pilot? Do we pause and choose to change tracks because something strikes us as important and necessary right now, and if we don’t seize that right now moment, it slips away, lost, never to return. A complement of praise and encouragement to our child who is struggling, a voice message to your dear friend who is going through a hard time, a hug for no reason to your partner. Are we even aware of the energy we’re putting out there? How we stand, where our head is, if we’re frowning or smiling, if our muscles are tense or relaxed, if our voice is harsh or pleasant, our words rushed or patient. These very things can change the way we meet each interaction we have, planned or unexpected, and even more impactful, change the way we leave another person feeling, and perhaps, even their mindset. In turn, when a person walks away feeling like they matter, with a lift in their mood, and a spark of joy, they carry that energy to their next interaction, and on and on. A positive domino effect that can change the fabric of the universe in a positive and healing way.
As we get closer to Chanukah, this message feels especially timely. We all know in a personal way that there is no shortage of unprecedented darkness and challenge, and mental health has staggering rates of very serious lows. Every single one of us has the real capacity to bring this approach in to their mind and put it in to action, one moment at a time. What happens is, we create a situation where it feels like the small personal universe we share has been changed for the better, and it will radiate a much brighter light, even in the dark days of winter.