My father had a friend, I call him my uncle but he is so much more than that. His name is Vijay and he remains the happiest man I have ever known. He founded a large accountancy firm in his region, employing many people. He was successful and well respected in business. This, I thought, was surely the reason he was always so joyful!
I will never forget the first time he took me with him to his temple. At the end of the service, the worshippers enjoyed a community meal together. I remember watching Vijay, who to my great wonder never sat down to enjoy this bounty himself. Instead, he was busy serving each person who came through the line, ensuring the food never ran low, and refilling everyone’s beverages. When the meal was over, he stayed late to do the dishes and sweep the floor. His smile never left his face, even as he was hauling the trash to the dumpster as he, the last one to leave, locked the door behind us.
For Vijay, this was no watershed moment. It was something he did each week; just another act of service in a life full of service.
For me, it was life-altering. I realized that success- the race to the top- wasn’t what I thought it was. In fact, the real race worth winning was a race to the bottom. Vijay may have had more material wealth than every other person in that room. Yet the reason for his effervescent joy was that Vijay never stopped looking for ways to be of service. That evening, which he probably does not even remember, was the beginning of my journey to monastic life.
If you consider the events that changed your life, how many are moments that may not seem greatly impactful to anyone else? The everyday examples of compassion and small acts of kindness impact each of us differently; sometimes, in ways that can redirect the entire course of our existence.
The ordinary moments can mean everything.
The small things matter.
This week, we shared a video highlighting the nearly 400 grassroots changemakers across the globe who have been part of our COVID-19 response. Each of them are ordinary individuals who, through their service and example, are having untold impact on the communities around them. Together their actions, no matter how small-scale, are seeding a kinder, more compassionate world. Who can say what greater good they are ushering into existence? Who are they inspiring that they may not even realize is watching?
The pebble in the pond can create a ripple of change; the collective current of many ripples is a new tide in itself.