Michael Phelps reportedly cried when he saw the new Under Armour commercial revolving around the intense training for his last Olympic Games (you can watch it below, at the end of this post). How can you blame him? He’s been through ups and downs. He’s had his days of darkness and made his mistakes. But he’s also triumphed in the world’s biggest spotlight. When you think about all the work you do behind the scenes to get you to the place you are today it can be a bit overwhelming.
After seeing all that Michael Phelps does in the darkness to find his way to the light of the Olympics we get this punch line:
It’s what you do in the dark that puts you in the light.
And we all understand it. You don’t just show up at the summer Olympics venue and jump in the pool for the first time. If you do you’ll be blown out of the water. All the other athletes have been training, eating well, lifting weights, and swimming mile after mile for the last four years. Somehow, some way, you have to train just hard — if not more; put in just as much work — if not more; lift just as much weight — if not more. Then maybe, just maybe, your hand will touch the wall before anyone else and you’ll receive the gold medal.
It’s the hard work, extra training, and a mountain of effort in the darkness that is making the world a better place. Think of the scientists working in dark labs. Think of the computer software developers working in dark cubicles. Think of the teachers working in their dark classrooms after school. Think of the doctors working in dark examination rooms.
I’m trying myself to take this to heart. It’s been one of my goals this year to work on my writing and put out a blog post at least three times a week. That means I have mostly turned off the TV in the evenings and have been working in the darkness of my living room at a craft that gives me a great deal of joy.
And it is my hope that the writing I do in darkness will help in some small way make the world a better place. It takes hard work, time, effort, extra hours, staying up late, getting up early to do the things in life that are most worthwhile and bring the most benefit. Much of it is done in the darkness and at times when other people are lounging, watching TV, or doing things that may not bring light to the world.
Darkness doesn’t always seem like a bright thing. Do you ever have those sleepless, dark nights when you toss and turn, worrying about something you ought not worry about? Do you ever feel the darkness cover over you when you think about how quickly your kids have grown? Do you ever think of times past and wish they would magically reappear in the midst of a dark moment?
Yet even that kind of darkness makes the world a better place. It makes you sit back and realize the blessings of the light. It causes the bright days to feel that much brighter. It brings a glow to life that shines after coming through a desperately dark time.
Darkness makes the world a better place in two ways:
- When people find themselves working hard in the midst of it; and
- When people find their way through it to the light.
Here’s some encouragement to take something you’re passionate about and use the dark hours of the day to bring it to light. A word of caution: don’t do it to the detriment of the important relationships in your life. Pay attention to them and nurture them. But when the kids are sleeping or your spouse is working or your friends are otherwise occupied, take advantage of those times and create something that will make the world a better place. We will all thank you.
How does darkness make your world a better place?