We all go through those specific moments in our daily lives where there is an event that last for few seconds. Such events demand action from us and we have to battle it out between our mind and heart before acting. All in a span of few seconds.
The lost family
Couple of decades back I was visiting a temple with my parents. Those were the days when I got my first job and was financially independent. While coming back to our hotel from the temple, it was getting dark and started to rain. As we walked briskly, a family of 3 (father, mother and a small girl) suddenly came towards me.
This is where my fleeting moment started. That father asked me for Rs 100 ($1.50) so that his family can buy bus tickets to reach a nearby railway station. I did not stop walking. Deep in my mind, I had two options : (1) give the family the money they are requesting for, OR (2) do nothing and walk away. I chose the second. And this is where my fleeting moment ended. It lasted for few seconds. Sometime later I was pondering on my own action and was very unhappy with the decision I made. I did not help that family thinking they were some kind of frauds. But I did not know that for sure. What if they genuinely needed that money? It started to rain and they most likely did not have any shelter either. Very soon they will be missing the last bus from the temple. It was just Rs 100!
Kids with a momentary joy
And fast forward to 2019. There had been multiple fleeting moments where I acted in different ways, but never really convinced if I did the right thing. This time, I was walking home when I saw a baker’s shop. So I went inside and bought a pack of cup cakes for my kids. As I stepped out of the shop, I saw this middle aged woman, with one kid sitting on her shoulders while another kid walking next to her. None of them had any foot wear and the woman looked like a daily worker at a nearby construction site. This is where my fleeting moment started.
While they were walking past the bakery, those kids looked towards the large glass windows of the store where bright colored cakes with lots of other tasty, fun and attractive food items were on display. Both the kids had a big smile, for probably 2 seconds, and then just walked past the store. They knew they cannot afford it. I was standing 2 feet away from the kids while they walked past me, while their momentary smile went back into a state a resignation. I had a pack of cup cakes right in my hand. It was again a battle of heart and mind. By the time I decided to do something to get smile back on those kids faces, it was just too late for me to take a step in the right direction. Yet another instance of missed opportunity. A 15 seconds frame of my life, that I could not make it worthy.
A cabbie’s world
Today happened to be another fleeting moment day for me and I’m glad I did what my heart said was right. Took a cab to come back home from office. While on road, I did not speak anything to the driver throughout the 30 minutes ride. He however had a short phone conversation with someone during the drive (agree, using mobile phone while driving is wrong — lets park that aside). So this driver was advising other person on the phone not to join taxi/cab companies as there is very little money to make. Despite working for 12 hours a day, his take home savings are less than $8 per day.
He was going through major health problems and is unable to buy even a “decent footwear for his wife” — a metaphor to convey how bad things are.
Now, the ride ended as I reached my apartment. This was my fleeting moment as my mind said the driver was faking the whole story. But deep inside, I had only one question — what if the driver is really in a difficult situation and I, with my ability to help him a little, chose to simply walk away? What is the worst that will happen if I give the driver some extra money and he just spends it in a liquor store? This time I chose to go with my heart. By not doing anything, there is 0% chance that I can bring a small relief for him. But by acting, there is at least a 50% chance that the driver can benefit from that small help. I decided to pay him 3 times the ride fare and stepped out. This small gesture may not have long lasting impact on the driver’s situation, but it will at least ease up one day worries for him. Finally a fleeting moment, lasting about 15 seconds, that I ended with a sense of joy.
Fleeting moments liven up our lives!
We all go through such moments in our lives. What is important is for us to act. Even if there are 50% chances that our contribution will make a positive difference to the other individual, do it. And remember, this is not about being a great person, donation, charity, sympathy or pity. This is our responsibility for humanity.
We may not have the resources to positively and permanently impact large number of people’s lives. But we can definitely provide smaller relief to few individual that we meet on a regular basis.
Fleeting moments are just a trigger for us to demonstrate our responsibility.