Be The Change
The elevator doors were already starting to close when I entered the lobby of an office building. I could see the face of a young man making a courier delivery through the closing doors, and when he glanced up and saw my face he distinctively stuck his foot out and stopped the doors from closing.
I scurried into the elevator and quickly said, “Thanks!”
“No problem, man,” he replied, and then he added, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”
He was getting out first. We stood in silence for several seconds as the elevator made its way to his floor. I must have looked a bit quizzical, because I was wondering if holding the elevator door open was the change that Gandhi had imagined with his now famous quote. I mean, really? Holding the door open now qualifies as change?
The elevator dinged as we reached his floor. “Have a good one he said,” and off he went. As the doors closed I was smiling. I had been rushing, and now I was smiling. And I was thinking about how to be the change I wanted to see in the world. It goes well beyond just a world where people hold the elevator door for you.
But then again, I was smiling. And I realized that the change my young benefactor was suggesting was not about the door at all—that was just the vehicle of the change. Without knowing who I was, with no possibility that it would bring him any personal benefit, without hesitation—this young courier had put my most simple and immediate needs on the same level as his own. And I had the feeling that if the situation were more serious, he would do it again—just as willingly, as instinctively, and as cheerfully.
Leaving the meeting later I headed back to the same elevators, and half expected to see him, but when the elevator came it was empty. I stepped onto it, and then I saw a man walking quickly towards the elevator, even as the doors started to close.
I stuck out my foot. The doors stopped closing. He got on and glanced at me and said, “Thanks.”
“How’s your day going?” I asked. I was practicing being the change I want to see in the world. And I smiled.