There once was a lighthouse, Lighthouse #7, who stood tall on the edge of the cliff. His job was to shine his light so brightly, that passing ships would know of the danger that lay ahead.
While he was isolated on the cliff, he was also part of a network of lighthouses, so he never really felt alone. He could see the beams of light sweep off into the distance and responded with his own grand beam sweeping out into the night, he knew his purpose and knew his role. He would marvel at how far his light could reach, exposing even the most submerged pieces of rock and reef.
The brief conversation with a passing ship was all he needed to know that he had done his job. “This is SS journeyman, thankyou Lighthouse #7, good evening and good luck” would come the call over the radio. With each radio signal, Lighthouse #7 would shine a bit more brightly for a moment or two.
Over the years, ships came and went and as they became more familiar with the area they no longer contacted the lighthouse when they passed. The silence gave Lighthouse #7 time to think, too much time… ‘what if they don’t need me’, ‘what if I am not good at my job’, what if, what if , what if…. With each ‘what if’, the reach of his beam shrunk just ever so slightly.
In time, the outer rocks became shrouded in darkness and the passing ships though confident in the water, came that little bit closer to the rocks before being reminded of the danger that lay ahead.
Lighthouse #7, kept his beam at less than half its strength but was convinced he was doing all he could, he shone each night but it was not the same. Each evening and each time he saw the sweep of the surrounding lighthouses, he found himself thinking “gosh they are such show offs”.
One night a thick fog rolled in and Lighthouse #7, paid little attention to the weather and changed little about his work, happier to be lost in his own thoughts and doubt. The lack of feedback from others, had him convinced that his light made no difference, “why put effort into shining, when no one appreciates it” he thought.
Then that night, of all nights, a small fishing boat, new to the area was heading home after a day out in the ocean. The white churning caps of the sea cresting on top of the reef was the first and only warning the captain had that they were in danger. But by that time, it was too late to change course.
The skipper was now well into the reef and it was only by good grace and good luck that the boat sailed past the outer reef, but had become trapped within.
“Mayday, mayday” came the call over the radio “this is Bill, I am trapped in the reef and cannot see how to get out”.
Lighthouse #7, was shaken from his thoughts, struggling to understand what was going on, he returned his light to full strength. The channel markers and the shape of the reef became illuminated and clearer to the skipper with each sweep of his beam.
“Thank you lighthouse” came the skippers call, “I can see my way home”.
It was a close call for Lighthouse #7, he felt good to be able to help, but also knew that he had a role in the boat being in the predicament in the first place.
The next morning as he considered what had happened, he realised, that his one job, to shine a light in his part of the world truly mattered and that it didn’t matter if people saw him, praised him or even knew if he was there.
When he shone his light at full beam, he felt part of all the Lighthouses that did the same, and the benefit of his work was there for anyone that needed it. He realised that when the appreciation came from him, he felt like his light could reach around the world, but when he waited for others to say he had done a good job, his light ebbed and flowed, based on what he heard others say.
From that day onward Lighthouse #7, decided to start each evening with a game of appreciation . He would look for the places his light touched, he would see the way a rock glistened as his beam swept past, he would notice the unique colour of this light and how this played with the mist, or rain or fog. The more he looked, the more there was to appreciate about himself. The more he looked, the more he appreciated everything. He would look at the other lights in the distance and began to see more than other lighthouses, he began to feel joy as he recognised that each beam of light also had its own unique feeling and way of shining into the world.
Over time it no longer mattered what others said about his work, because he knew in great detail, all that he offered. From that day onward the seas around Lighthouse #7, never had a close call again.
Dedicated to Lee Green, dear friend and Lighthouse coach.