“Look at how a single candle can both defy and define the darkness.” – Anne Frank
My mother likes politics. It makes me sad, especially lately, but this is her house, so that’s what the TV is tuned to in the evenings after dinner. I go to bed early, so I only have to watch a couple of hours of it, and I try not to listen too closely. I intend to spend time with her, not the TV. I play games on my phone or scroll on social media, but enough gets into my brain to make it so I feel like I would like to scrub it clean before I go to bed.
In my opinion, this is a dark time in the US. (Don’t worry, this is not a rehashing of all the vitriol going on in Congress and local governments, or of the daily news of innocent people being shot.) The war and the sadness in Ukraine, climate change catastrophes all over the world, unrest in the Middle East – our planet and all of the creatures on it are suffering. I have no control over any of it. Neither do you, probably. I will vote in the US elections when it comes time to do that, and I will hope for change, but for now, and as for the rest of the world, I’m just trying not to be consumed by the darkness, and doing what I can in my little life to keep my light shining bright.
Ghandi said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world,” and the change I’d like to see is simply for people to be considerate of others and to be nice. That’s it. Seems so simple, but it’s eluding us in a big and dangerous way lately. I can only do my part – taking care of myself and continuing to fuel my light – so that I’m ready to shine and to care for others. That, as I see it, is the purpose of my life – of all of our lives – and there is none more important for our future on this planet.
I do lovingkindness meditation everyday. I try to focus on compassion and kindness in my dealings with people in my life. I try to take care of myself to ensure that I don’t fall into my own well of darkness. I journal, listen to music, make sure I get enough sleep, read things that feed my soul. I eat food that’s good for me and, in smaller measure, food I really love. I exercise most days and make time for creative pursuits. Now that the weather is more conducive to it, I walk in nature as often as I can. I have fun with friends every chance I get. These things fill me up, and it is my belief that the positive energy I’m cultivating – my light – in turn, brightens the world around me.
Your things will probably be different, cuz we’re not the same. That’s fine! Do your things – whatever they are. Do what works for you to polish up your light and get it shining brightly again. We all know what is best for us, what we need to really shine.
Is it easy? Of course not. I live with someone who tests my patience and my commitment to kindness in every way possible every minute of every day, and has all of my life. Now I have someone at work testing me as well. (See my last post.) It’s hard. I want to do what I want, eat what I want, do whatever seems fun or exciting, not the same old stuff I have committed to do everyday for my wellbeing. So the approach I take is, if I’m not going to do the thing I know is good for me, will I be letting myself down? If the answer is yes – it almost always is – then I have to decide if that’s okay. Would it be okay for someone else to let me down after they’ve committed to something? Probably not. Okay, then…
I love it when I don’t let myself down. I have no control over other people, but I’m in charge of myself; I’m the only person I can change. So that’s where I have to start. It’s not easy, but it is worthwhile. I am still finding my way day by day in my life, but I keep trying because I believe it matters.
It’s human nature to find fault, I guess, and if you feel bad or unsure about yourself and what your place in the world is, you are more apt to find fault with others and tell yourself that they’re “wrong” so that you can feel better about the way you see yourself. You see everyone different from you as a threat, cuz you’re not really sure, deep down, that you’re okay just as you are.
It’s not surprising that in our culture people feel like they’re not “doing it right.” We get that message everyday from someone on TV or online who wants to sell us something that will fix whatever shortcoming they tell us we have. All the happy shiny people on Instagram and Tik Tok are loving life and having fun, and we’re not, so what’s wrong with us? There must be something, cuz isn’t life hard for them? It’s hard for me. What do they know that I don’t? What’s wrong with me?
Of course, we’re all just fine. We all want the same things. We may have different ideas about how to get those things, and that’s fine. We’re different people, living different lives. Life is hard for everyone. Really. Human life fundamentally boils down to surviving loss, and if you don’t see that, it feels like you’re doing it wrong. But really, life is 100% about dealing with loss, and finding the things that bring you joy and doing those things so that you are better equipped to handle loss. Do the things that fill those holes.
All this folderol in Congress and with the guns in this country is in an effort to avoid loss. Loss of power, loss of privilege, loss of money, loss of property, respect, social standing or self-esteem. The harder you try to avoid loss, the more loss you create for yourself and others – loss of life, loss of integrity, lost hope. It’s a never-ending downward spiral.
The only way out of that darkness is acceptance, tolerance, and love. Heal your own losses, and you help others heal theirs. Show kindness toward yourself and toward others. Accept that everyone is different, and everyone is OKAY. Tolerate those differences in yourself and you help others tolerate theirs and everyone else’s. Love every single creature on this planet, and you will help heal the Earth and yourself. It has to start with each of us individually. Find a way to accept and love yourself. Follow your heart and know that you are just fine exactly as you are. Set an example for your friends, your co-workers, your family, your children.
Shine your light.
Live your truth, and allow others to shine their lights and live their truths.
Shine into the darkness and diminish it just that little bit. You are not alone. Together we can defy the darkness and find our way back into the light.