I heard a talk the other day about the difference between foot lamps and stand lamps in the ancient Middle East, and the fact that both served very different purposes: stand lamps were, as implied by the name, set on a stand and were designed to light up the whole room, or outdoor area, or whatever. Stand lamps are big, and bright, and easily seen.
Here’s the thing, though: even the brightest stand lamp can’t shine everywhere. Heck, even the sun can’t shine everywhere: even during the day there is shade.
Enter foot lamps, small, hand-held devices designed to light the path of the bearer, or perhaps allow the bearer to light the way for one or two others.
Yes, of course: I’m not just talking about lamps, and neither was the talk I heard the other day. We’re all lamps, and we’re all either foot lamps or stand lamps, and neither is actually better or more important than the other; to light up the entire world, we need stand lamps and foot lamps.
If you’re a foot lamp, it’s easy to be over-awed by the stand lamps in your life, to think that what you do doesn’t matter, that it’s just small, that it’s not making an impact. But this is wrong: you’re lighting up your own life, and the life of the people immediately around you, the ones you touch in your daily life. You might only be lighting the way for one other person, but that’s important, and it’s worthwhile: you’re reaching into the darkness the stand lamps can’t expel. You are needed.
If you’re a stand lamp, it’s easy to get tired, to long to give up, because being a stand lamp means always being ‘on’, it means high expectations from the people using your light, and it means constantly being asked why you bother, until you start to question it yourself. Why do I bother with this absurd kind of life? ‘Normal’ people don’t, and they’re just fine. Well, because you’re a stand lamp, and that’s your job. Stand lamps are comparatively rare. It isn’t your job to be understood, it’s your job to light the way to bigger, better possibilities. It’s your job to dream.
So regardless of what kind of lamp you are, never forget: You are contributing to this world. You are helping to banish the darkness by the very fact of your existence–if you remember to light up. And remember to replenish your oil when you run dry, so you can keep burning.
You are a lamp. Go shine. <3