(June 24, 2018) I was walking through a park yesterday when I came upon a huge family birthday party complete with balloons, banners and barbecue. I asked one of the group whose birthday it was. He directed me to the family partiarch, PaPa, who was turning 77. I told him Happy Birthday. They told me he didn’t speak English, so in my very broken Spanish I said Feliz Cumpleanos, and explained to him that my Spanish was horrible, but that I was trying.
PaPa smiled really big and said something back to me in rapid fire Spanish that I didn’t understand. His son said that he had basically said that I radiate the sun. After five minutes of interacting with this family, I walked on with a warmed heart and a plate of food that PaPa’s wife had made me take. She packed me a plate of food after talking to her family for five minutes. My mom so would have done that. It just warmed me all over. The sentiment and the food which was spicy and amazing.
This delightful encounter got me thinking about Edith Wharton’s quote, “There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.” I think PaPa was telling me that I was a mirror. At least I hope he was. What an amazing compliment to be told that you spread the sun’s light.
This week with all the negative things that are happening in the world, I’ve been thinking a lot about how best to help those in need. How to shine my light. It seems overwhelming sometimes just knowing where to start, especially when you don’t feel like you have the power to fix the problem, to be the light.
PaPa got me thinking that maybe we don’t have to fix the problem or be the light, but we can make everything a bit better just by spreading the light. Radiating the sun to other people. I told you about my mom and her approach to life. She radiates the sun to every person she meets. It doesn’t take a lot of effort.
I walk around the park all the time, and stop and talk to strangers whether they want me to or not. I smile at people even in New York where almost no one smiles back at me. They seriously look at me like I’m crazy and that’s okay. I’m still going to radiate the sun to you. Try to block it if you can.
We try so hard to be the light, to fix the problem, but when we can’t do that maybe it’s okay to just reflect the light.
When I was working in Oakland, I lived in a 25-story building on Lake Merritt. All of the condos faced east or west. The west-facing units had a gorgeous view of the sun setting over the lake. The east-facing condos had a view of the city. I really wanted a west-facing unit, but I couldn’t afford it.
The first few days I lived there, I went to down to the ground level of the building, so I could watch the sun set in the west. One day, I got too caught up in work to make time to go downstairs, so I was in my east-facing office as the sun was setting. This is what I saw:
The moon rising in the east as the sun set behind me reflecting its light on the city. It was stunning. The city reflecting the setting sun was just as beautiful, and even more interesting, than the actual setting sun.
Maybe sometimes, the most beautiful expression of light is in its reflection. Reflect the light, my friends. Reflect the light!