A Candle in the Darkness

“Carry a candle in the dark, be a candle in the dark, know that you’re a flame in the dark.” Ivan Illich

Sundays are my longest days. They are both physically and emotionally demanding. I get to the studio at around 11 am to start preparing. Then I teach from 1 pm until 5 pm. After my classes, I work at the studio until 8 or 9 pm. I don’t take food breaks. I love my Sundays but they are exhausting.

A couple of weeks ago, I was wrapping up my work on Sunday and I was hangry. Yes, hangry. I was beyond hungry. The classes had gone well. But my rule is that I empty my email boxes and complete my tasks before I go home to eat and rest. It is important for me.  But just as I was wrapping up and about to close my laptop, an email notification popped up.

You know when you just want to leave everything behind and go home and maybe take a bubble bath and eat something? That’s how I was feeling but my inner voice kept saying “Just finish.” After all what is one more email? It’s nothing. I can finish it and finally get home and feel good.

So I started to read the email. At first I was frustrated. Then I got angry. Then I was hurt. Then I was disappointed. There was a whole slew of emotions in about 2 minutes. Why? Because the email said things that were not true about me at all.

Normally, when I get this kind of fake criticism I can shake it off. But as I said, it was Sunday and I was already depleted and hangry. So I couldn’t. I couldn’t deal with the email. I was so frustrated that I slammed my laptop closed. (Thankfully I didn’t break it!)

I packed everything up and as I was about to walk out of the studio, I stopped. I have a rule that says I can’t leave the studio angry. I want to be able to go home with positive energy. So I put my stuff down and I tried to sit and meditate. But as I closed my eyes and tried to relax, all I could think about was that email.

I was hurt. The email was not fair. I was hangry. I was tired. And so after failing to meditate multiple times, I just tried to relax. That didn’t work either. Finally, I said “That’s it. I just want to go home.” I was done and in a sour mood.

I closed the studio frustrated. As I was walking out of the building there were four other people in front of me. The woman leading the line of people was clearly in a rush. She opened the door so forcibly that it kind of slammed open and then started to close behind her.

Then I witnessed the craziest thing. She was well past the door (at least five feet away) but she walked back and apologetically held the door open for the rest of us.  And I remember in that moment just feeling so grateful.. The weight of the email slipped from my shoulders.

The woman was simply trying to do nice things and realized her mistake. She was my flicker of light in that moment. I was already smiling and feeling a little bit better as I walked out the door. Then as I walked out, I opened my phone to see a message from one of my students thanking me. He said the only reason he didn’t quit was because I spoke to him for 20 seconds in Salsa Level 2 saying I believed in him. That he shouldn’t quit, that he will feel the joy of dance if he keeps working.

The message said, “Hey Aleks, I now feel the joy. Thank you.” My heart just filled with love. All of the negativity left me and by the time I opened my apartment door, I was smiling.

So never underestimate what simple acts of kindness can do. Holding a door for someone, sending a message, buying someone a coffee, giving someone your time, it all matters. You never know how much because you don’t know the type of day they had.

If everyone lights up a little bit, the whole world shines. Remember a candle lit in a dark room shines bright. So this week remember to be kind and shine a little light in someone’s day.

Read here for a reminder how there is already an Abundance of Love in your life.

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