Share the good stuff: Own your impact by reflecting goodness.


I haven’t written in a while.  Usually stuff just pours out of me.

Stuff.  Recently stuff has been very quiet inside.  Silenced stuff that didn’t seem relevant or worthy.

Well.

We are always worthy. 

Last year a really challenging season showed me I didn’t like writing about stuff that wasn’t happy.  I sucked it up and wrote about overcoming.  In reflection, my experience was valuable.  Everything we see is a reflection, light bouncing off a form to give it shape according to our understanding.  Depending on how we look at it, we may see the same thing differently.

Reflection: The Pacific Ocean seen through the Olde Port Inn on the Avila Beach Pier

Life is always relevant.  

Last night I dreamed of wandering through an urban, neglected landscape.  As I walked through the glaring sunshine in dry heat, the neighborhood gradually grew more desolate.  The roads were unpaved, buildings rare and ruined.  The few people I saw as I rounded corners were broken and dazed, ravenous for whatever death tonic was keeping them alive, whether it was money, sex, confrontation, or drugs.  One by one, in subtle and different ways they noticed me.  What I saw looking back at me was scary.  A reflection of the dying human spirit.

Aware, alone and afraid I turned back the way I’d come, sinking lower as I looked for life: Growing desperate as it eluded me.  Suddenly a brightly knit fabric in gold, crimson and green caught me, and I saw a small cluster of men with locked hair, chatting animatedly.  My spirits lifted and we acknowledged each other in warm, polite greeting.  Thankfulness filled me and I continued my journey home.

We always have something to share. 

Reflecting on the dream, the only reason my spirits lifted when I saw those folks was an inherent understanding they meant me no harm.  The simple human connection of eye contact, a smile and warm spirit lifted and encouraged me.  How devastated would I have been had they turned and left upon my approach?  As I did in the face of fear?  How let down were the folks who noticed me approaching and surely noticed my fearful retreat?  I saw in those men a reflection of who I could be, simply by being.

Some years ago, a light bulb went off when a homeless man paid me a sweet compliment when I smiled genuinely at him: “Thank you sister, that smile is a blessing in itself.  God bless you.”  

I’d written off similar comments as polite come-ons in the past but that day I understood:  How hurtful is it when people won’t even make eye contact with you?  When they dishonor and disrespect you and themselves by averting their eyes, pretending you don’t exist even peripherally?  What purpose is served by scowling in the mirror at your own reflection?

You never know what another human’s need is in any given moment.  

When I went camping with my family recently, we slept in tents, had to pay for showers and use public restrooms.  On waking early, only to wait in a long line for the restroom and a longer line to wash my hands, I was one tiny, testy, trifling, trivial, too-through Tina.  For a grand total of ten minutes.  The spell was broken by an exceptionally cheerful fellow camper I passed on the way back to my tent.  As she approached, eyes bright with a smile on her face and offered a lilting “Good morning!”  I didn’t have the heart to crush her joy with my scowling frustration over poor potty time.  I mustered a genuine smile and greeting, laughed to myself about how childish I was being, and remarked on how immediate the impact of that simple, joyful countenance was.  I mirrored her reflection.  

We don’t have the right to choose who’s worthy of human decency.

Whoever you are, wherever you are, whatever you’re doing makes an impact.

Whether you mean it or not.

Be aware.  Be connected.

Make sure your impact is helpful and encouraging to others making their own impact.

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