The Best Way to Light Up our Lives – Learning From Luz
A few months ago, I met Luz Irene. She works cleaning and preparing food in a private household in Bogota. Colombia is a country with enormous income disparities. It is not rare that people have to work seven days a week to earn just enough to meet their family’s basic needs. Luz Irene is not an exception. She lives with her two children, husband, and stepmother, Luz being the sole provider for her family. Her children, aged twelve and fifteen, have not been able to physically attend school since the beginning of the pandemic. As the family only owns one laptop, Luz leaves the children her cell phone so that both of them can attend their virtual classes.
There are two reasons why I am writing about Luz. The first and most important one is that she has taught me about innate happiness and Kindness in a way I had never experienced before. Luz – her name meaning “light” in Spanish – really is a bright ray of light for everyone around her. She smiles all day and radiates so much joy, warmth, and Kindness that anytime I’m visiting the household she works in I catch myself trying to be around her as much as possible. Luz is constantly looking for ways to help others and is one of the most empathic, compassionate human beings I have ever met. My friend who has known her for 20 years told me that she has never seen Luz frustrated or heard her complaining.
The last time I saw Luz, I decided to finally ask her for the magic recipe to her happiness. She laughed. “You know, I just enjoy my job so much. Because for me, it is not really work, it’s is an opportunity to be Kind to others every day”, she said. I was baffled. This was it? It took me some time to think about what she had said until I realized how simple yet profound her magic recipe is. By deciding to see her work as a way of showing Kindness to others, she has been able to turn around a situation that could have been very challenging for her. I remembered a quote from the Dalai Lama that I had read somewhere recently: “Be Kind whenever possible. It is always possible.”
The second reason why I am dedicating this post to Luz is an experience I had with her very recently. Two weeks ago, Luz’ cell phone was stolen on her way home from work. This meant that she now was unable to organize her job responsibilities and that one of her children could no longer attend their virtual classes. After having searched for several days, Luz told my friend that she would give up on finding a new phone as she wasn’t able to find one that she could afford. When we heard that Luz wouldn’t be able to replace her phone, my friends and I decided to join efforts and buy a new phone for her. At the time, we couldn’t imagine what this gesture would mean to her – and ultimately to us.
With tears of happiness, she thanked us and (unknowingly) gave us one of the biggest lessons of all: that there is always a way to contribute simply by being Kind to others. Our gift was small compared to the tremendous amount of Kindness that Luz had been giving to others for so many years. As I was witnessing her joy over her new phone, I realized that I hadn’t felt this good in a while myself. And just then and there, I got a taste of Luz’ magic recipe. Happiness really is at our fingertips any time, I thought. And one of the most joyful ways to access it is to do an Act of Kindness for someone else.