For years I have enjoyed receiving Ruth Stricker’s Marsh Monthly newsletter in the mail each month. The October issue particularly resonated with me. Ruth’s column opened with this story:
One day a professor handed out an exam to his students with the text facing down, as usual. He asked the students to turn over the papers. To everyone’s surprise, there were no questions – just a black dot in the center of the sheet of paper. The professor told them the following: “I want you to write about what you see there.”
At the end of the class, the professor took all the exams, and started reading each one out loud, in front of all the students. All of them with no exception, defined the black dot, trying to explain its position in the center of the sheet. After all had been read, the classroom silent, the professor started to explain: “I’m not going to grade you on this, I just wanted to give you something to think about. No one wrote about the white part of the paper. Everyone focused on the black dot – and the same happens in our lives. We have a white piece of paper to observe and enjoy, but we always focus on the dark spots.”
“Our life is a gift given to us with love and care, and we always have reason to celebrate – nature renewing itself every day, our friends around us, the job that provides our livelihood, the miracles we see every day. However, we insist on focusing only on the dark spot – the health issues that bother us, the lack of money, the complicated relationship with a family member, the disappointment with a friend. The dark spots are very small when compared to everything we have in our lives, but they’re the ones that pollute our mind. Take your eyes away from the black dots in your life. Enjoy each one of your blessings, each moment that life gives you. Be happy and live a life filled with love!”
As Ruth so eloquently stated in her summation of the story, “The professor’s point well taken – let us acknowledge the black spot and then fill out the white space with optimism, gratitude and celebration!”
As we head into 2016 and reflect on your whole space, let the dot go.