Every exchange with another person is an opportunity to bring more light into the world. It’s also an opportunity to add to the world’s darkness, doubt, and despair. You don’t know where another has been or where another is going. You cannot ascertain how heavy another’s heart may be, or the burdens another may bear. You cannot assess the impact your exchange may have on another, for good or ill.
But every exchange with another is an opportunity to bring more light into the world. Every time you enter a room, every time you make contact with another, through eyes, through words, through facial and bodily movements, an opportunity presents itself. What shall you bring into the world this time, with this or that person? How do you want the other to remember you, to think about you, especially if this turns out to be your one and only exchange?
I strive to bring more light into the world rather than darkness, caring rather than indifference. Sometimes I think I succeed, other times I am sure I have not. I don’t succeed when I am overly focused on myself, on my wishes, feelings or rights, rather than the other’s. I don’t succeed when I forget that every single exchange is an opportunity to add to or subtract from the good will present in the world.
I say this not to pressure you, but to free you for self-forgetfulness, so you may turn to and focus on another with the light that is present in you. The other will sense this and respond by sharing what is in them to share, even while you simply stand there, with the light of your affirming interest shining on their hearts. You do not have to say a word.
My mother taught me that in every person there was at least one great truth. And my task was to listen for and affirm that truth for that person. Growing up, I got to watch her do this, almost magically drawing heart-truths out of others, who it usually turned out, did not forget her. Rather, they would in turn befriend the smiling woman who had first befriended them.
If you are going to succeed at bringing more light into the world, you have to invite light into yourself every morning. You need to develop the mindset of the servants, saints, and sages of the world, by recognizing just how precious a gift daily life is, no matter what your current circumstances. However heavy your burdens, you will likely see someone today with even heavier ones, even if they don’t disclose them to you. You can add to or lighten their burdens.
And the interesting thing is, when you lighten their burdens, yours somehow lighten at the same time, as if by helping another you are actually helping yourself as well. That’s one of life’s great mysteries: whatever we do to others will likely come back on us. Maybe we really are all interconnected, maybe we will ultimately rise or fall together.
So whatever lightening you do now, may help you in ways yet unseen. You don’t know when your light just may shine back on you.