There is no denying this world can be dark, cold and lonely. Succumbing to it leads to anxiety and depression that is often hard to overcome. I've experienced a lot of that sadness over the past few years, but it never consumed me because I found the answer: greeting students in the hallway with an exaggerated "Good Morning" or "Hello". It wasn't just altruistic, because If I came to school in a bad mood, that gesture made me feel better about the day. I was the bright light for myself, my colleagues and my students.
Since I started in DC, I noticed that a lot of people here are more guarded and reserved. Elevator rides were often uncomfortable because nobody would even say good morning. So I started. I started with the Capitol Police who were responsible for the security checks to get into the buildings. I would greet them and told them to have an amazing day, and it took at least a month of my persistence before they were responding. I knew that my greetings meant something when after a days long absence, one of them shouted, "there she is!". I made it my personal mission to greet everyone I encountered, from Representatives to legislative staff, to Capitol police, maintenance people and the cleaning crews. It made my day better and I truly believe it made theirs better as well.
The importance of these small efforts was made clear this past week. I had been greeting a dynamic duo of cleaning crew for several weeks. This past week, I saw one on her own. I greeted her as usual and when I asked how she was doing, she said, "not good". Her cleaning crew partner had gone home early the day before not feeling well, and she died. I was speechless for a moment, then I gave her a big hug. I saw her a couple of days later and asked how she was doing. I told her I was thinking of her and praying for her and she thanked me and told me I was like a bright light. A simple gesture, a kind word, these are not difficult things to do, but they can be priceless to someone.
My Congressional office is staffed with kind people that I feel lucky to work with. I have felt especially close to 2 of the interns, Abrahm and Meaghan. Abrahm has a smile that lights up a room and Meaghan oozes kindness when answering phones. It has been a blessing to work with these 2 extraordinary people who remind me every day to be a better, more positive person who will be the bright light for someone.
I challenge all of you make an effort to be the bright light for someone today.