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Little Lights

By R U Bored

On pondering the past year, to set myself for the new one, I reflect on personal events – the unexpected death of a friend, the joyfully anticipated birth of a granddaughter, road trips, near and far – taking me not only to both familiar and previously unseen destinations, but to previously unknown dimensions of my psyche. I physically and metaphysically visited places quite beautiful and exciting, and some very scary.

Then there was the shocking and challenging day that my just-turned-three-year-old grandson strangely broke his leg, in our home, while in my care, just beyond my reach. Helping him and my family through the healing process while under investigation by the authorities was certainly a test of my spiritual mettle.

Health issues also tested my strength, ingenuity and endurance, causing me to question my priorities and examine what I most value in life. It’s been a more-than-full year for me, with lots of what I would call nerve-racking rending of the veils of my illusions. I approach the coming year with a few more deservedly-earned gray hairs and a very different concept of reality than I had at the beginning of this year.

Reflecting on world events, it is the violence – shooting, bombing, killing, that first comes to mind. Terrorism. Extremism. Fanaticism. People rushing to get more guns to kill the people already killing people with guns. Sometimes the world doesn’t seem like a safe place, even though it’s running mostly okay for most of us most of the time. Sometimes it seems that the most dramatic and damaging or destructive incidents have the most impact on our lives. Sudden and shocking at first, they also affect us in subliminal, insidious, psychological ways, even if we’re not directly involved. They can put us all on edge – if we let them.

But, I remind myself, ordinary doesn’t make headlines. People all around the world quietly and consistently taking care of each other don’t make the papers. Traffic going smoothly isn’t newsworthy. Grass growing is a big snooze. Ongoing, everyday miracles often get overlooked in our focus on survival issues.

And there are positive things going on in our world. Pope Francis traveled this year to America, South America and Africa on a mission of peace and love, speaking about respecting nature, our planet and each other. Terrorists did not stop the Paris Climate Summit that is taking place as I write this. For the first time on Earth people from 200 nations are gathering to discuss ecological issues, trying to cooperate on solutions. Wow!

Transgender and immigration issues are also in the news, in this nation and around the world. There’s lots of controversy – many opinions and ideas about what we, in all our varying cultures, religions and societies, want to do about people some see as different from “us.”  It may look like a hot mess much of the time, but collectively we are thinking about each “other” in ways we never have before. Some cling to old, prejudicial stereotypes and beliefs. And they may get more attention because of their forceful ways. But I see increasing evidence that we are getting closer and closer to seeing humanity as one family, and being more willing to at least tolerate those folks we disagree with or don’t like.

So – how do I fit into this picture? So often I feel so overwhelmed by all that’s happening to me and around me. It’s hard to believe, sometimes, that as one individual I can make any difference at all. I feel so small. What can I do, now and continuing into next year, that is positive – for me and the world?

I’ve decided to do small things. I have no grand plan or huge resolutions. I’m simply going to try, in each moment, to be aware of ways I might make life better or easier for whoever I’m with, including myself. I’m going to do this by paying attention to, and focusing on, the little things I notice that please me, or make me laugh, or make things go more smoothly – instead of worrying about the big things, or things other people are doing, that I can’t control. I will smile, open a door, or let you open one for me, take or give a compliment. I’ll accept help that’s offered and offer help to someone I see struggling. I’ll try to appreciate the everyday gifts of life – a drink of clean water, a warm bath, a flower, a hug from a friend. I’m going to enjoy my own life more, so I can feel better and be a happier person, which, hopefully, will also be uplifting to those around me.

I give myself permission to be less than perfect, and give myself credit for whatever effort I make, for every little step I take. If I can’t walk for thirty minutes, I’ll walk for ten. If I can’t remember fifteen acupressure points, I’ll use the two I know. If I don’t have time to clean the whole kitchen, I’ll clean the sink. Unless it makes a significant difference, I won’t let it matter to me if I do things in a different order each time. I don’t have to finish what I start. I started. I can finish later. Or maybe decide to do something else instead. If I eat too much chocolate, I’ll enjoy every bite. If I get lost, I’ll find my way. And I don’t have to take the shortest way. It’s all O.K.

Each little thing I do to be more positive is a little light, shining – a tiny flame lighting the way in a moment of darkness. In time, all the little lights are like fireflies on a summer night, or stars twinkling in the night sky, or a string of holiday lights… I can’t light up the world. We can only do that all together. But I can make wherever I am a brighter place by shining as I am.

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