Know What To Do Before The Ball Is Hit

The action we take when the moment of decision is upon us has been determined long before, and if we’re not careful we can rule out the possibility of generosity and courage without even knowing it (this blog post is brought to you by an embarrassed softball duff who still can’t field a ball properly because he chooses, time and again, to play everything to the side and to let the ball come to him–a choice made inevitable before the ball is even hit).

Will we help the stranger who’s standing right in front of us? Will we blow the whistle? Will we stand up to a bully?

What if we anticipated these openings and prepared for them? It’s a myth that people who do remarkable things for others are made of holier stuff than the rest of us. Maybe they simply used all of the non-remarkable moments as opportunities to prepare for the chance to make a positive impact: grab some money before you leave the house in case anyone asks for some, pay for a stranger’s coffee now and again–you know, practice.

When I catalog the times I failed to live up to my own expectations, I notice the failure was all but guaranteed by a chain of smaller failures. And when I celebrate those moments when compassion or restraint win out, of course I discern a road well paved by little decisions nobody noticed.

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