We’ve been back in Austin for 3 years.
It’s been a roller coaster.
(bear with me. this will make sense in a moment.)
I’ve ambled through the ATX. I’ve made new friends. I’ve rekindled old relationships. I’ve done practically nothing to weave myself back into the community.
fundraising 5k…doesn’t really count.
I sensed these feelings emerging as we unpacked in the condo (for me ‘fully living somewhere’ means participating in creating community), but struggled to translate the sentiment into words until I stumbled upon Rabbi Wolpe’s tweet.
Be a Shamash (the ‘helper’ candle whose sole purpose is to ignite others) he exhorted via social media. Use your spark to set other lives on fire.
These 140 characters captured precisely what I’ve not been doing offline in Austin.
I’ve felt pretty good about efforts like our 31 acts of kindness.
I’ve felt pretty great about opportunities seized to help others in my virtual world.
I’ve not served as Shamash here in the same fashion I sought out/seized opportunities during my time in Oakland.
Your light burns brighter the more you spark flame in others.
(to beat a metaphor to death, I realize.)
this man was often my Oakland Shamash.
Since reading Wolpe’s tweet I’ve challenged myself to brainstorm broad acts or attitudes (unlike the specific actions of our December) which would assist me in bringing light wherever I go.
Any gesture of kindness which would serve to banish darkness or loneliness around me.
30 days later I’ve committed to 5:
- Remind others of potential. When we believe in ourselves, we show up differently in the world. This showing up confidently and unapologetically is contagious precisely like a flame. This is a way I can be the light and know the light will gain momentum even when I’m gone.
- Listen. Completely, wholly and silently. Especially to those who may have no one else interested in hearing what they have to share.
- Seek advice. Ask for help. We all possess a desire to feel needed. We all feel more alive when we know we matter. Seeking other people’s counsel and acting on what they suggest both helps me and serves to spark the other person’s flame.
- Offer connection. From Crappy Dinners to small acts of kindness. This year, more than any other, I’ve relearned the lesson everyone has a hard. We all have a challenge even if, at times, it may not be immediately apparent to others. The majority of us desperately crave connection we aren’t receiving.
- Provide help. Provide. This is different from offering. This year I wont give people opportunity to brush off or decline my attempts. This doesn’t mean I wont ask others to clearly define how s/he would like to receive assistance. It does mean I’ll be gently persistent.
I won’t end this post by saying:
“And now I plan to spend the next 365 days Being A Shamash in Austin whenever possible.”
For me it feels much bigger than that.
I want to make this shift.
I want us both to remain permanently altered and consistently bringing the light.
- How might you be a Shamash in your community?
- What could you do to share your light with others?