• Ken Caputo

Seeing the Light

Something really interesting happened yesterday. On Facebook, I offered to share a kind word and a positive thought with whoever asked for it. I ended up sharing thoughts with a couple dozen people. Some of them I interact with every day, and others I haven’t even spoken to in years.

I almost backed out of doing this, and I’d like to share why, and what I learned.

This seemed like a really good idea for Giving Tuesday, yet as soon as my shaking hand hit the “post” button, I started getting really nervous. I always have difficulties putting these things out there, but this was an even more intense reaction than usual.

I had this fear-thought pop into my brain like a ninja that had been waiting to spring out and destroy the often fragile confidence I experience when writing. A question started oozing into my head and tried to take root. It caused me to seriously consider deleting the post.

As this question seeped in and formed, it clarified and took hold. It was a very simple, nine word wrecking ball that had the potential to sit in my brain and start to fester:

“What if can’t think of anything nice to say?”

I had no idea who was going to reach out. I wanted to say something real and relevant to each person, not just deliver some generic nicety. What if I looked at their name, and drew a total blank? Oh boy. This was not a pleasant thought.

I resisted the delete urge, and fortunately the first couple of people to respond were super easy. I’ve known John and Stephanie T for almost their entire lives, and they are such awesome humans that the right words flowed without any resistance. It left me feeling like I could defeat that fear ninja and deliver on my offer.

As the requests came in, I started to realize something.

It wasn’t at all difficult to find something kind and thoughtful to say, regardless of the relationship I had with them, how well I knew them, and whether or not I had a lot in common with them.

Each time a new name appeared in the comments or on messenger, I found myself doing one simple thing:

I’d pause for a moment and really look at them as fellow human beings.

Very quickly, words started coming to mind based on how they expressed their passions, values, beliefs, and views. From there it wasn’t difficult to see how those things could positively influence the world around them.

Turns out, all I needed to do was look for the light that is present in every human.

That got me thinking about that fear ninja who was so quick to jump into my head. Isn’t it interesting that one of the first places my brain went was to wondering if I could find something nice to say about one of my fellow humans?

In my defense, people have been a little off their game this year, and some of the anger and intensity being openly expressed has been quite jarring.

Still, wouldn’t it be better to think first in terms of who someone is at their best, instead of who someone is at their worst?

I think when life has given us a beating, this is harder to do. When I had this realization, I was a little disappointed in myself, as I’ve always worked to see the best in people and I had obviously drifted from that habit.

My 2019 was kind of like everyone else’s 2020, and the beatings I had taken that year had worn me down and left me feeling a little jaded. It happens. I’m glad I’m aware of it now and can actively work to polish the lens I choose to see the world through.

I deeply believe that there is light in every person. Sometimes it shines brightly, other times it’s so dim we may think that it’s gone out completely. I choose to believe that it is always there, and if we can just feed it a little energy and attention, it will blossom like a flower opening to the sun.

The other thing that I realized is the power of holding up the mirror. All I was really doing was reflecting back the good in a way that allowed them to see it in themselves through my eyes.

Doesn’t that mean the reverse is also true? If we reflect back that shadow side we all have, if we show them the worst parts of themselves as seen through our eyes, isn’t that going to dim their light?

Now I’m not saying that at times we shouldn’t give someone a wake up call and a good old smack upside the head. What I am saying, is maybe we should remind them of their light before we bring attention to the shadow that concerns us.

We have a lot of power when we hold up the mirror. Are we being intentional about how we use it?

THAT lead to another question...

Are we making it easy for others to see our light, so that they can reflect it back to us?

When we look at ourselves through someone else’s eyes, do we like what we see?

These seem like questions worth pondering, don’t they?

My dream for you today is that you empower those you cross paths with by showing them the very best of themselves reflected in your eyes. May you show them their light as you see it, causing it to shine brighter.

May you lead with your own light, and find joy in seeing it reflected back towards you through the eyes of those you love and trust.

May you find comfort in the knowledge that shadows are always there and we all have them. May you remember that reducing the darkness is a simple byproduct of brightening your light and the light of others.

I see you. We see you.

Thank you for being a light in the world :)

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