Do Not Play Small

“Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate, but that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that frightens us. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so other people won’t feel secure around you. As you let your own light shine, we consciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” 

~ Marianne Williamson


“That’s not a star,” Chuck, my limo driver, said matter-of-factly.

“Excuse me?” I responded. It was 4:30 AM the last time I checked my watch, something I do obsessively when there’s an early morning airplane to catch. I must have been dozing.

“That’s not a star up there. See…that light…there in the northeast sky? It’s the planet Mercury.”

Indeed, the moonless night was the deepest ebony. We were alone on the road to the airport. One tiny lamp pierced the skyscape, pulsing steadily, like a newborn’s heartbeat, A celestial Lite Brite with just one clear bulb. “Mercury,” Chuck stated again, this time with professorial certainty. “In the summer you can see Saturn, even some of the rings – they have a reddish hue.”

“How do you know so much?” I asked. You’re just a limo driver, I thought to myself, startled (embarrassed) by my unattractive haughtiness. I’d been riding with Chuck for four years, but knew little about him, except that he’s reliable, a doting grandfather who’s worked all over the country, and had a cancer scare last year. He’s a naturalist too – knows all about pear trees, guinea hens, the mating habits of whitetail deer, and how certain herbs can reduce a swollen prostate. Now he’s an astronomer? Some people are walking encyclopedias and chauffer Tahoe’s to pay their bills.

You never know who is harboring fonts of information, insight, ingenuity…the next American Idol… your next real estate superstar? We meet bright, gifted people like Chuck only so often – Susan Boyle types, living the humblest lives, with so much possibility inside, but rarely letting it out. They’re hesitant (afraid, don’t know how) to promote themselves, but sometimes good luck finds them. Meanwhile, the rest of us are too absorbed or “busied” to notice. We’re not purposely scoping for betterment, for new talent, new technologies that could upset our already upside-down world. So, we comfortably (safely, zealously) confine ourselves to small backyards of similarly-minded friends and associates….people just like us, who believe and act the same We (they) are not exploring any big, big universe for fresh opportunities, eager new faces, for truths yet discovered that could illuminate better direction and purpose for our daily doings… better light to magnify our personal esteem, to live more joyful, “vectored” lives that hopefully impact others, rather than mindlessly moving about, in perpetual orbit, anticipating only the next three day weekend.

“Yeah, they dumped Pluto as a planet a few years back,” Chuck was still lecturing. “It got demoted by a bunch of astronomers. They’re calling it a dwarf planet instead, like Dopey and Sneezy….”

“Really? Kind of sad.” I looked up at Mercury, still a planet, pulsing with newfound appreciation; a distant beacon penetrating our daily darkness, reminding us of new worlds only a dream (but courageous step) away. “You look up there a lot, Chuck?” I asked as we pulled up to airline check-in.

“All the time,” he said haltingly. “I wonder what it’s really like…Oh, uh, have a good flight!”

Written by Marty Rueter