Finding the light in wallpaper

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November 30, 2015

Life is full of pen-on-the-wallpaper moments. As I mentioned in my last piece, at three years old, my son decided to gift us with one of these moments – literally. While it wasn’t my proudest moment – not because I wasn’t proud of him, but because I wasn’t proud of how I reacted – I can always look back at that moment, my reaction in the moment, who I was in the moment, and know I can do and BE better.

Maybe because I heard a lot about letting my light shine this week (that’s our job as Jewish people, after all), or about how obstacles are put before us to teach us a lesson, or about reminding ourselves to always judge favourably, but it got me thinking about how often these types of pen-on-wallpaper moments show up in our lives. And more importantly, it got me thinking about what type of person I want to be in the face of these moments.

We’ve all had these moments – some are small marks that can easily be concealed by an end table and you forget they are even there. Some are limited to one vertical strip, requiring that one strip to be replaced relatively painlessly. And some are full-blown pen-on-wallpaper-murals.

No matter how big or small these moments are, they’ll always show up. And no matter how big or small, I always have a CHOICE about what to do and say – and most importantly, how to BE.

When I think back at this past week, I’m pretty proud of how I showed up in the face of various pen-on-wallpaper moments. I wasn’t perfect, but I’m certainly taking the wisdom I’m hearing in the lectures I’m attending, the books I’m reading, and the conversations I’m having to heart. The other day I was in line at a store and the elderly lady paying was taking a very long time. I was in no particular rush so I patiently waited my turn. I could have easily turned to the man in line in front of me and made a snarky remark about getting in the “wrong” line. I could have huffed and puffed so everyone saw I was agitated. I could have even walked out to “make a point.” But I didn’t do any of these things. Maybe she’s suffering from memory loss, which is why she is taking long to count her money, I thought. Maybe it’s the cashier who is causing the delay – maybe her mind is on the funeral she needs to plan for her younger sister. Maybe I’ll never know the reason and it really doesn’t matter because, for me, waiting three extra minutes in line at a store is really not a big deal in the big scheme of life. I hope this is my biggest problem in life, I thought.

There will always be pen on the wallpaper. And I thank G-d every day that I’m blessed with three healthy children and a comfortable lifestyle, and that my and my husband’s biggest problems really are as insignificant as pen on wallpaper. And I certainly don’t claim to have wisdom to share with people who experience true, significant challenges. But for me, my way of keeping my light bright, is always remembering I have a CHOICE on how to BE in the face of everyday inconveniences, detours, and roadblocks.

Whether it’s an unexpected 10-minute detour because the route I’m driving is closed off for construction, or my computer crashing and taking 20 minutes to reboot – I can be dark or I can be light. I choose light. And whether it’s because those people have a natural internal flashlight, what I’ve observed is that the people who DO appear to have more significant life detours than me – with children who are born with special needs or health challenges for example – are often the ones whose light shines the brightest. I will always strive to shine even half as bright as them.

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