This I Believe

michael - ogden, Utah
Entered on December 1, 2007

This I Believe

“Gem Collecting”

I was driving through the heart of Ogden, Utah area several months ago with my wife and stepson. At 25 MPH I caught something out of the corner of my eye on the side of the road. As I continued driving down the road, I watched, in my rear view mirror, the blind couple attempting to negotiate their way across the road through traffic. As I pondered this situation over the weeks that followed, I realized that I had lost a gem that would never be returned. Just slightly different behavior on my part, 90 seconds of my life, represented a precious jewel.

What if I had pulled my car over when I first noticed the blind couple at the edge of the road and escorted them through traffic across the street? I would have received that burst of positive energy that always accompanies acts of this sort. The blind couple would have been assured safety, but equally importantly, they would have received a small renewal in faith in humankind. How about my wife and stepson? I’ve found that positive behavior is contagious. There’s a pretty good chance that my wife and stepson would have absorbed this act, and that through this absorption, would have increased their own awareness in looking for, and acting on opportunities to make an impact.

The difference 90 seconds of my time would have made – 5 people with elevated states of mind – a bump, albeit small, but a bump still the same in the total wealth of our society. Instead, this gem of an opportunity was lost. But the good news is that my recognition of this missed opportunity, improves my ability to find them in the future.

I believe that as I march through my 70 or so years, I am presented with only a finite number of opportunities – of little gems. These are opportunities to participate in great acts. And great acts aren’t necessarily monumental acts, but they are always precious. They can be so subtle, but they are always significant – as my cumulative reaction to these opportunities throughout my life defines who I am – who I become.

My 14 year old son, Joey, spent the afternoon the week before Thanksgiving with a group of classmates collecting canned goods for “the poor.” I was proud of my son for making this contribution of his time and energy for a good cause. But when he told me who else made up his little entourage, I was deeply moved. Joey’s two companions were from the heart of the “hood” in downtown Ogden. Both of them participated in the assisted lunch program which is another way of saying, their families don’t have much money. These two boys who more likely than not go to bed hungry more than once a week were out collecting food for… well, “the poor.” They gave me still greater appreciation for what collecting jewels is all about.

So I now enter the holiday season with a fresh charge of positive energy about the potential of humankind and more alert for new opportunities to help see this potential realized.