The doctor and the nurse descended the dark stairway.
“That’s odd,” said the doctor. “She usually screams when anyone walks down the steps.”
“Well, it’s like I’ve been saying, she’s getting better,” said the nurse.
“We’ll see about that.”
At the bottom of the steps, the doctor and the elderly nurse approached the girl’s cell.
“Hello?” asked the doctor.
“H-h-hello,” came a voice from inside the dark cell.
“Hello, Anne. Nurse Emily says you’ve been doing better.”
“Y-yes, Doctor,” said Anne as she moved towards the bars.
The doctor took a step back and nodded. “If we allow you back upstairs, will there be any more fits?”
“Not at all, Doctor,” said Anne. “Nurse Emily has been reading to me and I can sit still now.”
“Is that right?” asked the doctor. “Very well. Bring her upstairs.”
The doctor handed the nurse the cell keys, turned on his heels and ascended the steps. The sound of his steps faded into the distance and Anne’s hand shot through the cell openings.
The old nurse smiled and clutched the small trembling hand.
“What if I have a fit again?” asked Anne.
The nurse turned the key, and opened the door.
“You won’t, dear. Now come with me and listen carefully. Today there will be men here from a local school for orphans. I’ll lead you up to them, and you introduce yourself, and ask for admittance.”
“Like we’ve been practicing?” asked Anne.
“Exactly like we’ve been practicing,” smiled the old nurse as she hugged Anne close. The two of them walked out of the basement and into the light.
That day would change the trajectory of Anne’s life forever. She would approach the men from the school for orphans, and they would accept her into their school.
Nobody in the world saw what was coming, or what she would become. It was hard to see any potential through the horrible circumstances that led Anne to be caged, like an animal in a cell, in the basement of a mental institution.
Born to illiterate parents, at five years old she developed a painful eye infection that would render her almost blind. Then Anne’s mother died a few years later. Afterwards, her father abandoned Anne and her younger brother, Jimmie. Anne managed to get Jimmie to a local “Almshouse”… basically a mental institution. Just two months after they arrived, Jimmie died, and she was left all alone with searing pain in her eyes that no longer worked. Fits of rage from the pain, loss, and confusion caused the doctor to place her in a basement cell.
A single elderly nurse took notice of her and decided that with love, cookies, and reading… the girl could be healed. That nurse’s real name has been lost to history, but she was old and wise enough to love and do good work. Most people’s rational mind would think there would be a return on her investment of love. Her mind was beyond that. She gave love, and in doing so, she sparked love in the mind of that little girl named Anne.
In the 1870’s, when Anne entered school, she had to fight for her life to get up to speed and overcome her blindness. Later, she began going by “Annie,” and eventually Annie Sullivan would go on to become a teacher determined to pass a similar spark to those who had fallen through society’s cracks. Her most famous pupil was Helen Keller, who would later transform how society and culture viewed those without a full spectrum of “abilities”.
Annie fought to pass the spark of hope, life, and communication to illuminate the darkness in Helen Keller’s world. She succeeded, and Helen Keller provided inspiration to millions trapped by biological and genetic fate. She kindled the spark of life and love that the elderly nurse gave her. She gave that spark to others in the darkness.
The name of the nurse who decided to love and nurture Anne is forgotten, but the transformative ripple effects of her actions are not. She rescued a girl who had been left for dead in a basement cell. That special nurse planted a seed of love that would transform the world and offer hope to millions. It’s likely that she never imagined the end effects of her efforts.
That little girl in turn kindled that spark until it became a flame that helped illuminate the darkness and create opportunities for tens of millions trapped by horrors of life or genetics. She became a focal and amplification point for light in the world.
Imagine all of the pressure you’ve ever felt to achieve something or change the world.
Think of all of those thoughts. Think of all the things others think you should do. Think of all the things you think you should do in order to be good enough. Think of everything and everyone that has made you feel as if you’re not enough as is, or you won’t be enough until you…
Now let them go.
Take the pressure off yourself.
You don’t have to do anything. You are fine the way you are. You can aspire to greatness, you can build things that transform your life and others… but you don’t HAVE to do ANYTHING. Shed all of that pressure.
Because it only takes one single spark of kindness to transform another’s life and ripple out into the world. That small spark of love can reinvigorate humanity at an unfathomable scale. That love and energy can be passed throughout the world to start movements, or new scientific discoveries that lift curses of biological and genetic fate.
Dare to look outward at life and the world with fresh eyes. Your small daily actions matter more than you know. You can help create a more voluntary and liberated world through small daily actions. Simply passing a single spark of hope can catalyze the mind of someone in the darkness. Every mind you encounter is an opportunity to pass that spark. Encourage. Be kind. In 99% of cases, you don’t know enough about another’s situation to judge it. In 99% of cases, you don’t know enough to worry about anything.
Release all of those pressures to shape and “change the world.” It only takes one small act of sustained service directed towards another.
You never know where your single act of love today will lead to tomorrow… or in a hundred years.
No matter where you’re at right now, whether you’re all good, or:
writhing with imposter syndrome
Or, like Helen Keller’s teacher, stuck in a psychological and physical prison.
Have faith… If you think with a bias towards the long term. If you honor the inexorable power of patience and time. If you pass love on, changing the world is easier than you think
You’ll interact with at least one person today.
Do your best to send compassion. Try to be a bit more loving, a bit less judgemental.
In our modern world, the people we run into each day have a multitude of opportunities, technologies, and potential to do good works in the world.
What if you treated each person you meet today as if they possess the power and potential to change the world in a way that voluntarily lifts humanity?
If you continue to treat as many of the people you meet with kindness as you can, over the course of time, you will create a better world. Take the pressure off.
You never know which one of the people you help lift up will (in whatever imperceptibly small way) help spark the minds of others who will pay it forward.
Changing the world might be easier than we’ve been led to believe.
If you enjoyed this article please recommend and share it to help others find it.