Lighthouse

Truth - Sometimes we get lost trying to find our way home. We need someone else to be the voice that calls out to us. We need others to show us the way and illuminate the waymarkers that guide us where we're supposed to be. We require assistance from those around us and may or may not be aware of their influence and impact on us. Just as there are those that move us forward in profound ways, it's imperative to understand that we also have the capacity to and are obligated to do the same, if not for them, then others. Lighthouses shine their light and guide you to dock.

"A lighthouse is not interested in who gets its light! It just gives without thinking! Giving light is its nature!" Mehmet Murat Ildan
 
The entire concept of a lighthouse has always fascinated me. They cannot give light to themselves but cast their light far out. The area around them may always be steeped in darkness but they drive forth light. Back in the day, it used to be a sea-faring landlubber who would shine their light out to seas, and oceans in order to guide ship crews in to port. This vivid imagery of a white tower with an internal spiraling staircase leading to a single room with a massive revolving light blub comes to mind. Thick heavy fog floating over choppy seafoam green and grayish waters as a waterlogged ship comes barreling to shore with cheers of relief exploding from the exasperated crew completes the harrowing experience. Lighthouses are literally and figuratively beacons. They signify that home or at least recognizable comfort are just a little further up ahead. They draw people in and show them the way. The provide hope above all else. They remind you to keep the faith, hold tight, and give thanks. It remarkable how far their light reaches and what it means to each and every person who is touched by it's benevolence. We each have people in our lives (hopefully so) who do just that. They serve as our lighthouses.
 
Who are the people who take the time to check on you no matter what? I know there are immediately people who come to mind for me. Isn't it interesting how quickly you are able to pinpoint those who express their care towards you? Do you show your gratitude to them? Do you do the same for others? I think I often underestimate the power of my own light. I don't think I realize what I bring to others or the ways in which I live my life conveys to people. I don't think I am intentional enough in prioritizing sharing what I have to offer with those more than those closest to me. It's a responsibility we have to see the humanity in others, to treat them with the dignity and respect they inherently deserve, and to empathize with them. It's on us to shine light onto others. We should be the ones to make them smile. We should be the ones to ignite their passions. We should be the ones that give them hope when despair clouds their way forward. Just as others light us up, so should we for others, strangers, and everyone in between. We get to be lighthouses too.

Looking back at this time last year and rereading old posts that were all adventure themed perfectly summed up my experience then. I was on a search for who I wanted to be, what I wanted to do with my life, and how I was going to change the world. I'm still searching to a certain extent but also have found the me I was looking for especially in the way I get to interact with others. I should have seen it as I went along but I have always struggled to receive praise. It's not that I don't appreciate it but I'm just doing what I know I must to make sure people know they matter. The amount of people who call me dad, their big brother, or mentor, just keeps growing. They tell me that I inspire them, changed their life, or am the best thing to happen to them. I'm their lighthouse. With that unofficial title comes a duty to be bright, to be bold, and to be better. As they use me to find their way, I am also doing the same with some of them and others in general. We create a network and can light up the whole world. It's what we do. We check on one another, we provide support, and we give encouragement. You never know how you'll effect someone, and the ripples it'll create - always hopefully for the better.

Thinking of the people that inspire, energize, and challenge me to give my all does nothing more than make me grin from ear to ear. Some of them are in obvious ways, aka the hilarious goofiness of my supervisor, but others have a subtly about them. As I left college I lost contact with some people but also strengthened bonds with others. My buddies Shawn and Kyle have been consistent sparks of unbridled support as we all figure our post-grad lives out. I don't know what it is but I always feel comfortable rambling on and on to them. The stupid snapchats we send, the little warm texts that remind us we're thinking of one another, or the chats that demonstrate the authenticity of our relationships, stand out to me. There's my fraternity people in Zach, Lisa, Will, Dom, and Kyle who give me nostalgia something fierce but keep in constant contact that gives sustains me in so many ways. Of course my orientation family with Isora, Camilla, Cheyenne, Connor, and the rest just being the best, point blank period. I get handwritten letters and little gifts in the mail that brighten up my days. And there's so many others in addition to the people I've taken on as my own and the students I get to work with daily.

This week has been full speed ahead but even in the dark I knew where I was going. From going hard to create a memorable Homecoming experience for my students, to speaking up in class about on intersections of race, sex, and social class, I made it work. Hearing dynamic women of color speak on their experiences and the hardships they overcame, one a student affairs professional with some life-changing outlooks on social justice, and the other being paralympian April Holmes, gave me an extra flash of light for the week. When I did have those moments of doubt and frustration with making mistakes or dealing with overcritical inquiries, I chose to try and embody the light that others have shown me. I put my energy into shining light out to others instead of wallowing, or shutting down. I baked cookies and wrote words of encouragement for both the fraternity houses I work with, and sent off some care packages for people who made a difference in my life. There's more to come as midterms come - I'm going to make time to gather supplies and mail off bundles of de-stress materials to friends, just because. I'm going to be okay because I can make sure others will be okay. I'll stay in my lighthouse so long as I'm needed. X

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