We all need light. We need it to see, to work, to do nearly anything. When we are in complete darkness, which really isn’t often, we accomplish far less than when we are in the light. We need it, but the question is, are we using the right light?
This parable was referenced recently, and it’s crazy how powerful and simple it is. It’s troubling to me because I see myself in both characters.
It’s really the Stars vs. the Lantern as Kierkegaard writes:
“When the prosperous man on a dark but starlit night drives comfortably in his carriage and has the lanterns lighted, aye, then he is safe, he fears no difficulty, he carries his light with him, and it is not dark close around him. But precisely because he has the lanterns lighted, and has a strong light close to him, precisely for this reason, he cannot see the stars. For his lights obscure the stars, which the poor peasant, driving without lights, can see gloriously in the dark but starry night. So those deceived ones live in the temporal existence: either, occupied with the necessities of life, they are too busy to avail themselves of the view, or in their prosperity and good days they have, as it were, lanterns lighted, and close about them everything is so satisfactory, so pleasant, so comfortable — but the view is lacking, the prospect, the view of the stars.”
How easy it is to be pulled into using some form of “light” in our lives, only to be shown how wrong it was after we give it up. Think about it:
- When we quit or are forced to leave a comfortable job only to find our true passion and wonder what took us so long to do that. Stars vs. Lantern
- When we think that great marriages are only reserved for a chosen few only to find out it’s possible even for us if we choose to work at it daily. Stars vs. Lantern
- When we are blinded by the need for cooler things only to find out that by shedding them we are actually happier. Stars vs. Lantern
I know it sounds really weighty and I can hardly believe that I’m quoting Kierkegaard, but the story was so true for me and maybe it is for you too.
We can accomplish far more with the right light. So the question is, are you using the stars or the lantern?