Don’t give up being good, just trying to be great.
I listened to a story told by firefighter Mark Bezos. It was his first fire. He was ready to be a hero. He so wanted to save a life, a person, a pet, anyone, so he could go home and be like Superman to his children. He got to the fire, the second volunteer firefighter on the scene. The first firefighter was asked by the captain to go save the homeowner’s dog. A little disappointed, he waited for his assignment. He wanted to be the one to save the dog. The homeowner was standing outside, in the pouring rain, with no shoes on. The captain told Mark to go get her shoes. It was in a pretty safe place in the house and he came out quickly with the shoes. In the moment, of course the dog got a much bigger welcome than the shoes. The next week the homeowner wrote the fire department a letter of thanks. She praised them for their work in saving her house, her dog, and she said they were so kind, “someone even got my shoes.”
Mark so beautifully teaches us, “Not every day is going to offer us a chance to save somebody’s life, but every day offers us an opportunity to affect one. So get in the game. Save the shoes.”
I am a painter. I am a writer. I am not Cezanne. I am not Hemingway. Yet I paint and I write. I learned during my first “fires” (my first days of selling), that a card sold for one dollar, could mean as much to that person, maybe even more, than the person who payed thousands for an original canvas. When you see that person hold that small piece of paper close to the heart, tears in eyes, you know it was a good thing. For that one moment, it was a good thing. Sometimes I think, but is it good enough? I could do better, be better. And this is OK, we must all strive to be the best we can. But I have learned, I can’t give up being good, just trying to be great.
We do the small things. We touch people’s lives. Most of the time we won’t save the lives we touch, but oh, how we can touch them. The little things carry us from day to day. A smile. A hand. A song. A moment. And in those moments, those moments of kindess, maybe we truly ARE saved.
And that is good. Maybe that’s even great. Paint the painting. Sing the song. Reach out your hand. Save the shoes. It all matters.