Leave the light on

Have you heard this story? After Jimmy’s mother tucked him in for the night, kissed him, and proceeded to leave the room, he said, “Mommy, please don’t turn out the light.


“Jimmy, you don’t have to be afraid of the dark,” she assured him.


Jimmy replied, “I’m not afraid of the dark. I’m afraid of what’s in the dark.”


What did Jimmy think lingered in the dark? I remember lying in bed at night as a child, keeping my arms tucked close at my sides, afraid something lurking under my bed would grab me if I let my arms hang over the sides. Jimmy and I both let our imaginations run wild when it came to being scared. I think most of us do. Our fear is a mistrust of an imaginary future. And that fear keeps us from moving forward.


In 1896, 35-year-old Helga Estby set out on a 3,500-mile walk from Spokane, Washington, to New York City with her 19-year-old daughter, Clara. Their purpose was to collect the $10,000 offered to them if they completed their odyssey. The money would be more than enough to save the farm they were losing. Helga said that despite being demonized for leaving home and family, “To improve one’s lot in life, one must be willing to travel into the unknown.”


The unknown is that big black hole that looms in front of us. We keep it dark with our fear, a fear that we may not even be able to name. And our fear deepens as we let our imaginations run wild about what could be waiting for us in the dark.


Author Marianne Williamson wrote: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We are all meant to shine. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.”


Jimmy was right when he asked his mom to leave the light on. Each one of us should leave ours on as well.


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