Chewy likes to run.
In the mornings before most are up, Chewy and I run. Its a habit that serves us both enabling a pleasant start to every day.
Often as we cruise the neighborhood we tidy the place up a bit: pick up some litter, put a wayward trash can back on the sidewalk, maybe pull a downed limb off the street.
Not long ago as we made our daily trek for reasons unknown we passed a pice of litter – a plastic cup – and left it there.
That afternoon walking home from the bus stop I rounded the corner and that same cup was still there. This time it went in the trash.
Social scientists relate the broken window syndrome, the argument basically holding that to slow decline in a neighborhood you must fix things as soon as they fall into disrepair.
In plain English, take care of things when you first notice them (as opposed to when you “have a little time”) and your world stays together a little bit better.
Life’s like that too.
Leaving that litter on the ground for more than 12 hours told passersby the people who live here don’t care: we throw our trash anywhere. It said, someone else can take care of this. But they didn’t. I wasted an opportunity to act when I could have.
How many opportunities do we waste every day?
What about times when a kind word to a co-worker would have made the difference? Rushing from one meeting to the next do we skip chances to help someone along assuaging our omissions by pretending our input doesn’t really matter? Do we tell ourselves something even more cynical, like people need to “man up” as a means to justify our lack of empathy?
We complain about not being recognized at work but do we offer it? Or do we squander moments when a little acknowledgement from us could have made the difference.
What of friends and family. How many chances are left lying on the ground when we might have soothed someone with a few words or better yet, a bear hug without needless talk. Opportunities are all around us to make the world a little bit better.
But how long will they come our way?
Each one of us matters in life: there are no wasted human beings. There are no useless opportunities.
We impact the lives of the people we touch – whether intimates like family members or a stranger like a cab driver – in ways we’ll never know. And the knowing isn’t important. Its the doing that matters.
Ghandi was right: be the change you want to see.
You don’t need to wait for someone else to pick up that piece of litter. You don’t have to wait for someone else to take the first step.
And you can make tremendous impact in the quality of the world about you just by the things you do. Or don’t.
You can make a difference. Today.
See you around the neighborhood: we gotta run.