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Thank you. I just want to say thanks for what you do. Thanks for the work you do, at the job, in your family, with your church, community.

You matter. What you do and who you are matters. And I know we often don’t get thanks or appreciation that’s important to hear.

Lighthouse keepers had a mostly thankless job.

Alone, in the Dark

Day in, night out — the lightkeeper had one mission: keep the light on. Trim the wicks, fill the lamp oil.

Through the darkness, no matter the wind or rain, the task remained for the keeper: Shine.

He usually lived at the base of the lighthouse. His home, his life, plunged in darkness but dedicated to the light.

While everyone slept, he was up through the dark night. Often in isolation— out in remote areas.

Sometimes it was a family mission. The job was shared and often passed through generations.

Passed By

And it’s not as though lightkeepers received thank you notes. Ships they served, just passed in the night. Yet their faithful work saved lives and averted disasters.

He would never fully know the difference he made. But he knew he must shine on.

And so must we.

We have to do what we do, and man up to the duty to show up every day. Regardless of whether or not anyone notices.

Whether or not there’s applause. Whether we know if people have been helped.

Best Kind of Head Fake

This reminds me of Michael Faraday‘s famous lectures about the Chemical History of a Candle, which he gave to spark the scientific curiosity of young people in Victorian England.

Faraday explained the wonders of chemistry through a simple candle, but in the end it was about more than the chemistry — it was the spark for more.

All I wish is that you may, in your generation, be fit to compare to a candle. That you may, like it, shine as lights to those about you; that, in all your actions, you may justify the beauty of the taper by making your deeds honorable and effectual in the discharge of your duty to your fellow-men.

Michael Faraday, experimentalist, chemist, physicist, circa 1848

(Faraday later worked tirelessly into his 70s to translate his electrical discoveries into improving peoples’ lives. He traveled all over England to install electric light bulbs to enable lighthouses to shine brighter — and ease the lightkeeper’s burden.)

Highest Contribution

Since lighthouse keepers were the only people around, they also rescued people fallen overboard or boats overturned from storms or faulty navigation.

On those days of rescue, their highest point of contribution was to jump in the water or row a boat to rescue people before they drowned. Undoubtedly, their lighthouse stayed lit during the rescues. But they didn’t stop at trimming the wick. Or say, I should go fill the oil right now.

Saving lives was the ultimate expression of their truest purpose.

Recently, I’ve been asking myself a different question instead of, “What’s my most important task today?” Assigning importance can be relative and often quite selfish when left to my own devices.

Instead, I’ve started to ask myself, “What is my highest point of contribution to the world today” — to enrich the lives of other people, my family, friends, crew … and you?

I find this a much more immediately clarifying and illuminating way to evaluate how I tend the flame and hopefully shine some light for anyone who may venture by.

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