At the gas station in Grayling, we saw two soldiers gassing up their car. As Dan filled our minivan tank, Asher and I walked over, hand-in-hand and tapped on their window.
“Excuse me,” I said. “We just want to thank you for serving our country and protecting all of us.”
The soldier in the driver’s seat was flustered, and smiled shyly. “Oh,” he said. “Well, you’re welcome.”
“It’s the least we can do,” I said. And we walked away, hand-in-hand, tears brimming by the weight of it all.
Yesterday, I interviewed firefighters and a police officer for a TV show I am hosting in Bloomfield Township. Again, I gazed at the crisp uniforms and wondered how one decides to devote one’s life to protecting others. That every day, some people wake in the morning, determined to spend the day making sure everyone around them is safe. It’s a huge undertaking and one not to be viewed lightly.
“Only a life lived in the service to others is worth living,” said Albert Einstein.
The question, really, is how can one NOT spend the day thinking of others? If you think about it, a day devoted only to the Self is a selfish day indeed. Thinking of what’s in it for me, is a lonely path to trod.
I’m not judging, and I’m not being high-handed. I have a great life. But my life has only gotten great since I’ve turned my gaze outward – each day, I go through a mental checklist of what I have done and what more I can do for my clients, my children, my husband, my friends, my community.
Some days I succeed and some days not so much. But wallowing in my own attitude and desires is a quick downward spiral.
I’ve always believed we are put on this earth to make it better. That’s a daunting task for what is essentially a short life. If we’re not discovering the greater meaning in every moment, then what are we doing?
There is something to say for being yourself so much that it serves others too. If you live a life of integrity, deliberately, and make your own choices from that deep place, it works. A friend told me twice in the last week that I am known around our children’s school for eating healthy. Wow. I didn’t know I was known at all!
I don’t do that for others, surely – I do it for myself – or maybe it is for others – I choose organic foods or local foods or foods without hormones and antibiotics and not from factory farms and mostly plant-based foods so that a) I am healthier and b) I will live longer to serve others more and c) I can teach my children a healthy path in life. So maybe it is for others.
There’s no point in standing on a milk crate and preaching at the top of your lungs. Do what you believe in because it’s right for you – and in your actions, you become an example of integrity to others. A quiet, sincere example for those who care to notice.
This idea of service, it’s so wonderful, freeing. Dr. Aumatma Shah describes it this way:
“Being of service is the opportunity for me to be who I am– at the core of which all of us are the same… kind, generous, loving, compassionate, grateful. In service, there is really no doing, we are just being… Presence. And what’s amazing about it is that all of us can do this; right here, right NOW.”
Just being. Think about it. No easier path.