“Next Time”


I felt an urge to act and do something for someone else, but I resisted.

I was walking to class and as I turned the corner of one street, where there is a slight incline to the sidewalk, I saw a woman in a wheelchair rolling herself up the sidewalk about 50 yards in front of me. I immediately wanted to help her. I wanted to walk up to her and ask her if I could roll her the rest of the way to wherever she was going. After this initial thought, I started to wonder what other people around us would think. I started to think how it might lead to a conversation and make me late for class. I started to justify my desire to help her by thinking that she probably doesn’t need my help because she does this everyday. Then, I switched to the other side of the street so I wouldn’t have to pass by her. And I continued on my way to class.

I began to think, if no one else was around and it was just me and this woman in the wheelchair on campus, would I have helped her? There definitely would have been a higher chance, because the fear of what others think would be out of the picture. Yet, there was more than just me caring too much about what people think of me or how they perceive me that stopped me from helping her.

In the moment, when I was contemplating helping her and the idea popped in my mind, I immediately thought how magnanimous of a gesture it would be. However, I chased that thought by doubting the possibility of doing it in this moment, and thought how I would do something like that later on. Later on, when I have more courage or selflessness to act in such a way.

This “not yet” mindset paralyzes me. I think of all the possibilities in the future, while the moment flees without my action. I continually say “I will later on” or “Probably in the future, just not right now”. But, does “later” ever come? If I don’t act now, will I actually act later? Will the risk of change and transformation that terrifies me in this moment not exist in the future?

Too many times do I put off making a choice that would take me off the beaten path. I fear doing the unusual, because it might change something. It might change me. It might lead somewhere I’ve never been.

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