When I was 7, I came down with a nasty case of strep throat. The pain persisted to the point where I had trouble breathing, I wasn't able to keep down liquids, and I couldn't walk without assistance.
My mom immediately took me to the doctors. After checking in, I was taken to a room where I was hooked up to a 5-hour intravenous drip so that I could rehydrate. The nurse administering the I.V. was in training, and was being coached through the procedure.
She left the room, and an hour later, she came back to me sleeping - with an arm 3 times the normal size. I had always been a skinny kid, so this giant arm looked really cool on me. The nurse had obviously made a mistake, but the laughter between both of us and my mom cut through my sickness and made me smile.
It's that smile, that laughter, that little bit of joy that I think is what ultimately hurled me out of being ill, and I think that little bit of joy, shining in a little hospital room, is one of the many occurrences in my life that have inspired me to desire to bring light to dark places.
There was another moment, when I was 17 or 18, that I saw someone share that light. The moment has never left me - 2 friends and I were walking around downtown Los Angeles at 4 am, after a night of train riding, suburb exploration, and roof-top climbing. As the sun cut through the cold winter air and split the sky scrapers in half, a middle-aged construction worker passed us on the street.
With nothing but a huge smile on his face, he said "Hey guys! Have a beautiful day!" How uncharacteristic for him to wish us well. How stereotypical of us to think him incapable. That moment changed the way I interact with people every single day, as simple as it was. That small act of kindness cut through anything I was thinking at that moment and showed me how I could treat other people.
Because Kiara and I are both sick, I've spent a lot of time the last few days thinking about, really, how much I hate being sick. I would rather break my arm or stub all of the toes on my left foot before I caught a cold. And that's the thing - I think humanity sometimes assumes that the world has this horrible sickness, and we forget that the world is actually good, and that good things happen and good people DO exist.
So we go about our day trying NOT to spread kindness or be loving or share community with one another, because what if we catch the sickness, too?
We avoid each other at the grocery, we hurry on our way to our next thing, we dash around and just try not to catch anyone else's germs, because for some reason, we're convinced that the world is bad. It's not, but there's a lot of money in keeping you thinking you'll be attacked by a shark or you'll get in a car accident or your home will be robbed.
The number one solution for this? Start doing small, good things for other people.
It sounds so simple, but when I first saw how much good came from calling someone by the name on their name tag, or holding the door open for someone, or picking up someone's dropped car key's at Target did for them, I couldn't help but run with it. I started when I was working for Chipotle in 2012. I would greet every customer with a massive smile, no matter how tired I was, and would intently talk to them about their day.
Caring about people and making other people feel loved could be done in less than 50 words.
My conclusion, then, is that the world is not the sickness. We are. But what the world doesn't tell us is that we're also the doctors who can fix it through kindness, love, and intentionality.
Through holding a door open,
that leads to picking up some keys,
that leads to calling someone by their name,
that turns in to a conversation,
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I'm on a mission to show that the light will always pierce through the darkness.