Letting the Light In

May 2020 | by ashlynn reynolds-dyk

Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive. ~Dalai Lama

As May begins and we enjoy spring blossoms and more sunlight, I cannot help but think about how March and April brought some dark days, perhaps more than ever before - at least, in my lifetime. At the same time, I also saw so much more light in these two months than I ever have before. 

Perhaps it is a choice - I generally choose to actively practice gratitude and to see the light, the positive, the good… over the bad (this is not to say I am great at it—in fact, it is a constant work in progress). Other times, that light is undeniable in its presence, like when I found my neighbor at my door holding a box of chicken from a local restaurant (his effort to support a local business and do something nice for a gal locked down at home with three children and a husband working out of town for an essential job). That was a reality - a fact. Jeff brought us dinner from a local restaurant, and he wasn’t the first or the last to do something kind for our family. The goodness of people - the light - is there, and it has been there. It is not simply my opinion that this kind of light exists, rather it is a fact, and there is a plethora of tangible evidence to support it.

Although the existence of kindness and overall support is unquestionably a reality, the practice of these is, in fact, a choice. People have actively made a choice to donate resources, support local businesses, help their neighbors, and generally do good for others. They have made a choice to spread hope, kindness, and support. The light that they brought, their warm and caring gestures… these are real things. There is light at the end of the tunnel, but there is also light seeping in as you pass through it. The light has been there all along, and it is up to us to acknowledge, honor, and let it in...  

This means that just as the practice of kindness and goodness is a choice, so is allowing ourselves to experience it. We make a choice to hang onto the negative or let it go, and we make a choice to hang onto the positive or dismiss it. As humans, we have a tendency to remember and hang onto the negative (many research studies support this). But here’s what happens when we start to acknowledge the positive- to honor it, and to let it in: We begin to realize that as humans, we are one, and we are united. We are a collective whole that functions because of the other.

What has become abundantly clear with COVID-19 and everything that comes with it, is that perhaps we are not meant to be so busy (anyone finding some solace in the peacefulness of not having to run around or be anywhere at any specific time while simultaneously missing your people and previous life?), we are meant to work collectively - as a whole, we make the system work. We need agriculture to produce the food we need to survive, and the transportation industry to help deliver those items. We need people in public service to help facilitate the transfer of those goods, and we need people in finance to help facilitate the trade of those goods. Those goods are what feed and keep our healthcare workers going who we so desperately need, and so on and so forth. Aristotle was talking about a lot more than math when he said, “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” And so it is through this realization that perhaps we decide not only to let the light in but also to hang onto it and even to spread it. To see and be light is to do our job as part of the collective.

Finally, speaking of the collective and connection, we are not meant to live in isolation (I mean, pretty sure that is clear at this point!). Amid uncertain times, one of the things we need most is our people - our villages. We need a connection with those who keep us going. Yet, as we found ourselves in the middle of a global pandemic requiring us (to keep our families and communities safe) to physically distance ourselves from the exact people who help us get through the difficult times in our lives - our parents, our friends, our neighbors, etc. We have found many ways to maintain our connection with those people we desperately need in our lives. Here again, the light of humanity shines - the creativity, hope, and grace of humans who find ways to have play dates (virtual LEGO competition, anyone?), happy hour (Zoom quarintini with the girlfriends, anyone?), virtual religious services, the revival of pen pals and letter writing, date nights in, campouts at home, and so much more. 

Originally printed in the May 2020 issue of Simply Local Magazine

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