14 Nov If You Want to Be the Sun, You Shine the Same for Everyone
“Are you being helped?” The man running point at the small medical office seemed irritated, and the bags behind his glasses made me wish I could grant him a day off.
“I think so,” I replied. “I’m not sure where the woman went who was helping me.” Patience is a virtue, I told myself. Let’s make this situation better, more, dare I say, pleasant? Let’s start with manageable.
I peered around the room. I was there for a simple blood test — this wasn’t exactly an Ocean’s Eleven caliber operation, yet we were making little progress getting the ball rolling.
“Okay… what are we doing here…” the man said, doing one of those silent yells into space, paired with a so help me God hand imitation that one does when speaking with a less-than tolerable representative when switching phone carriers or setting up a rental car.
He grabbed my doctor’s order that the other staff member had left on the table and started jamming at the black plastic keyboard with two fingers — TATATATATATATATAATATATATA…..
I watched, practically transfixed by the speed and vigor with which he stabbed the keys. He poured the pens on the desk from the “dirty pens” container and gave them a quick Lysol wipe down before handing me one.
This is it. I thought. It’s clearly been a long day for my friend here. How can I make his life the slightest bit better?
The moment you are tested to act upon a belief is the moment your life will change forever. You act once, and you know what you’re capable of. You step into the unknown just by giving a stranger a compliment, and you shake up reality.
You do it again, and stepping into the unknown becomes a habit. You continue cultivating those positive habits, and what we know as character starts to form. From then on, to not act in accord with the character you’ve developed feels as if you’re letting yourself down.
This moment of time that we’re in is a proving ground. During the last two years, while we’ve coped with the fear, anxiety and incomprehensibility of Covid, I’ve felt a calling to step up.
If I don’t adhere to that call, the only person I’ll let down is myself.
I’ve read some of the most powerful books I’ve ever read during this time, some of the most transformative being Jordan Peterson’s books: Maps of Meaning, 12 Rules for Life, and Beyond Order; Charles Eisenstein’s The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible; Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning; and Inner Engineering, by Sadhguru.
These books have given me the inspiration to explore the depths of my soul, and how it’s connected with the universe at large, with this planet, and with every individual. But it all means nothing, the reading and the lessons and the writing about these issues, without putting the practices to use.
I strive to cultivate the belief that people are truly good if given the chance to be. No matter what happens, this world can change if we rise to the occasion and see it for what it is: love.
The world needs the love we share, or perhaps, a return to the love that we are. Author Daniele Bolelli (my favorite name ever) said something on the Aubrey Marcus Podcast that I haven’t been able to let go of since I heard it:
If you want to be the sun, you shine the same for everyone.
It’s not just the people we can happily coexist with who deserve our love, our laughter, our encouragement, our respect. It’s all people in all situations, even when we ourselves are down. Even when we feel we’ve been wronged. Even when the world seems to be bereft of meaning.
I can sit behind the keyboard and write about the world needing love all I want without ever stepping outside and enacting that belief. But I’m not writing for a class or for recognition. I’m writing to better understand what I’m on this earth to do.
Putting down these words fulfills a calling of my soul, but the words are only the beginning. I truly wish to help others see the good, as I look for it myself.
Each of us is the change that this world needs — change that is made manifest by how we interact with the world on a daily basis.
It’s not in the big moments when we’re called to act. It’s in the seemingly trivial everyday occurrences, doing what needs to be done, where we may decide to take a stand, to wake up, to make a change, and be the difference.
I sat in one of the patient rooms with a blue band tied tightly around my upper arm. My man had his cell phone on speaker, trying to coordinate an order with another doctor’s office for a couple of patients he was helping before me.
This guy’s doing his best, that’s for sure. I needed to let some of the tension out of the room before he stuck a needle in my arm. Relax, I thought. Be here; be calm.
“Are you from San Diego?” I asked when the phone call ended.
“Born in Los Angeles, but went to high school and all that here.” He replied while walking out of the room. Alrighty.
Yet, for the first time I felt a subtle connection. Perhaps I was no longer the last patient of the day before going home, but a human being, at least trying to be. When he came back into the room I struck again:
“I’m actually from Los Angeles as well, moved here about a year ago. What do you like to do around here?”
Honestly, I’m often afraid to ask people what they like to do. I assume when asking somebody who’s working that this is it, that they work, go home, sleep, work, wait for the weekend, repeat. And that is regrettable on my part, and something to change.
He replied sarcastically, “well I’m a bit of an alcoholic.” Wonderful.
“San Diego has some amazing breweries…” He started telling me about some of his favorites and the type of beer he likes. I could palpably feel the energy shift in the room. His voice gained a jovial undertone, and he was smiling like a kid.
At that point, I saw him for who he is, a big kid. I’m a kid. He’s a kid. We’re all just kids, under the illusion that we must grow up and give away our happiness.
Now, he was asking me questions like a friend. As I headed for the exit I turned around: “Hey man, I appreciate your smile, your laugh, and all that you’re doing.”
“Wh-what?” He was visibly taken aback. He smiled, and then started to laugh like a kid. “Of course! I mean, I’m sticking a needle in your arm. The least I can do is not be an ass!”
The way you see people is the way you treat them, and the way you treat them is what they become. - Goethe
I have seen this quote exemplified many times over the last two years, most profoundly in an experience which I wrote about over the summer.
We drift through life with preconceived notions of who people are, why we’re different, and why we should be afraid, or even distrustful. But what would happen if we assumed the best of people, of ourselves, and of this incomprehensible existence, and acted in agreement with that?
I believe we’d be pleasantly surprised by how people react when we treat them as a human being worth loving. That’s what we are, that’s what this is, that’s why we’re here.
I’m not saying that if we treat individuals with trust and hope and even just a smiling face, it will always produce a change of heart.
I’m not saying there aren’t people who do bad things, or that we can journey through life without a care in the world, believing everything will work out if we have nothing but good intentions. Perhaps that’s naïve. The world can be a cruel place.
In these last two years people have lost their family, their friends, and their will to go on. But as we face adversity, as we all inevitably do — when we have our legs cut from under us, or when we’re cheated or broken — what will we decide to believe?
Throughout all of this, one thing that we retain and which can never be taken from us, is our choice.
To smile despite the pain.
To step into the sun.
To treat people as human.
To be easy on ourselves.
To let go of fear.
To rise to the occasion.
What we believe is how we act, no matter the situation. It’s all part of this beautiful human experience. If you want to be the sun, you shine the same for everyone.