Leave a Light in the Window

I can see a warm dim light in the window

And the world is a little storm

And the world is a little close

And the world is a little light

And it’s moving very fast

 

 – Carrie Newcomer, song featured below

Peering into this photograph which was captured on my first solo journey overseas, I am reminded of the distances I’ve traveled, how quickly the sun sets, and just how fast the world spins.

Despite severe jet lag and an introversion-fueled discomfort with not having a traveling companion, I flung myself into a cold and wet evening in search of Hallgrímskirkja, the impossible to pronounce Icelandic cathedral. Getting there before the light faded required some significant scampering up side streets, but I arrived in time for a stunning sunset view of the magical city of Reykjavik.

But what really captured my curiosity was the glimmering light in a second story window a few blocks away. So I set about lining it up, on purpose, in the center of my viewfinder. For all the brilliance in the setting sky, my eye fell in love with a tiny light that would stay. At least for awhile, someone was up there settling into a warm chair on a cold winter’s evening.

As I made my way “home” to the Reykjavik Inn it dawned on me – I carry bits of light from every scene I’ve photographed, every hand I’ve held, every conversation I’ve had, and every place I’ve been.

Am I paying attention to the quality of these conversations?
The world is moving so fast! Am I gathering these fragments of light purposefully? 

Fifteen months later I’ve made two extraordinary commitments to myself. First, to create and launch this website, which I now see as a collection of these fragments. This project is fueled by a desire to share the beautiful places I’ve seen, offer unique perspectives, and inspire creative courage. As I dig deeper into my purpose I’m discovering a growing source of tension between the need to slow down and pay closer attention to the beauty around me while also feeling there is no time to lose. I’m both a caretaker and a crafter of light in this world.

Which leads me to my second commitment: enrolling myself in the altMBA, an online leadership workshop developed with best-selling author and teacher, Seth Godin.

Seth’s genius for creating things that matter and inspiring people to leap higher on purpose led me into what I can only describe as a crucible of exhaustive attention, teamwork and learning. What I get out of it clearly hinges on the time and quality of effort I’m putting into it. But two weeks into this remarkable journey I feel like I’ve flown into a cliff.

Once again I find myself utterly jet lagged from transporting myself to a foreign land. And once again, it feels like I’m flinging myself into a cold and rainy evening in search of an indecipherable cathedral. Scampering up this hill I feel like I’m being pushed into a wall and being asked to level up! UP! UP!

But as I lay on the couch, exhausted, with pizza crumbs dotting my mouth I feel the need to pull back into my guiding purpose for attending the altMBA in the first place. I’m here here to push myself to the beautiful edge between capability and possibility, not scale the side of some grandiose cathedral!

As much as this might sound like a criticism of the program, I assure you it’s not. Guiding students into “the dip” as Seth calls it, is intentionally baked into the program. “Where are you going to put your tired?” Seth asks.

Consider how no one asks a marathon runner how to run a race without getting tired. All runners, whether they are professionals or amateurs, get tired! The difference between an amateur and real pro is where they choose to put the tired.

And while I’m at it, let’s look at being scared. Where are you putting your scared?

While I’m somewhat unskillfully putting it into pizza, my scared is the primary ingredient in the words I’m sharing here. I’ll sit with my fear during an hour of  silence, then I’ll dip my tired into the hot tub and go to bed early. I have an eight hour meeting to attend tomorrow with people who are holding me accountable for showing up for myself–for the light in the window I will not let burn out.

I’m being empowered to recognize I’m the CEO of myself. No one is forcing me to finish this program, I can make an executive decision to quit any time. But I won’t. Because I’m the Caretaker of Light, the COL.

The difference between my sprint up the hill to Hallgrímskirkja and my current sprint is I’m not alone this time. I’m with five scores of accomplished, creative, purpose-driven people. A band of strangers who are taking aim at accomplishing something sustainably richer. People lending a light of perspective as we navigate professional fog. Darkness, it turns out, is where sparks are born.

Peering into the future I have no idea what’s coming next, and neither do you. What I do know is we’re better when we do it together and there’s a light we can bring into the center of our view. Years from now I want to look back at the distances I’ve traveled and still be filled with wonder and gratitude.

Because the world is moving very fast.
And the world is made of light.
And we are the lights we’ve been waiting for.

Let’s go!

 

 

Photo Credits: A Little Light in Reykyavik, Susan J. Preston, Reykjavik, Iceland ©2017, all rights reserved
Technical Info: Fuji XT-2 | 18.2mm (XF 10-24mm F4) | F5.0 | ISO 320
Music: Light in the Window by Carrie Newcomer, visit here.
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