The Joy of Service

by Scott London

A decade ago, I had the good fortune to spend time with Laura Huxley, widow of the great British novelist and philosopher Aldous Huxley. I spent several afternoons at her house in the Hollywood Hills.

We discussed her life with Aldous, her charity work on behalf of children, her frustrations with traditional psychotherapy, and, not least, her thoughts on death — a subject she said was impossible to avoid at her age (she was in her late 80s at the time). The conversations were eventually edited and broadcast on the radio.

As I was about to leave on the final day of our talks, she read me a short verse from Rabindranath Tagore. I was touched by it and scribbled it down on a small piece of paper. I tucked the note into my pocket and promptly forgot about it.

That was ten years ago. Today I rediscovered the scrap of paper in an old box. It was like finding a forgotten jewel.

Tagore’s lines are elegant in their simplicity, yet profound in their meaning. For Laura, they were words to live by.

I slept and dreamt that life was joy.
I awoke and saw that life was service.
I acted, and behold, service was joy.