When we were kids parents and teachers taught us to be kind to others, to never do harm, and to not be selfish. “Always do good deed,” was the saying so oft-repeated that it should be imprinted in our head.
As we grow older, however, our lives take different turns, and our experiences – all the ups and downs – shape us to be the kind of person we become. It’s human nature to transform; life is not supposed to be stagnant anyway, though the changes are not always for the better. But if we take a closer look at the things that happen in our surroundings, we can learn a valuable lesson or two, as I recently did.
It started out as an ordinary morning. I woke up at 5.30 A.M. and got ready for my class that started at 7 A.M. I am a second year pre-med student and that day I had seven hours of class in total.
I took an angkot or public van to campus and it was filled with passengers already when I got in. As took a seat near the entrance, right away a very old man caught my attention. He was probably in his mid 60s and he had a huge wooden box – too big to be put on his lap – on the seat next to him.
It takes approximately five minutes from my apartment to my campus building and about 100 meters before we got there, the angkot suddenly slowed down because a young woman flagged it.
It was a mystery what the driver was thinking because all the seats in the van was taken, except for one spot presently occupied by the big wooden box belonging to the old man. All the passengers looked baffled and so did the young woman who was about to enter the vehicle door. The driver didn’t help. Instead of apologizing to her because he couldn’t fit another passenger in the car, the driver told her to get on and told the other passengers to make room for her. Of course to him more passenger meant more money.
Suddenly, the old man rose from his seat and squatted down on the floor between the two benches that face each other to give the woman his seat. I have no other explanation for this act of selflessness, except that he didn’t want to deny the driver the income from another passenger.
I didn’t understand what was going on through me at that exact moment. I wasn’t behaving like a kind human being. How could I even let an elderly sit on the floor?
I could have offered to carry the box on my lap so the woman could sit without him having to vacate his own seat. But, no, it didn’t even cross my mind to do this. Instead, this was what went through my mind: “Please hang on for a second, Sir. In two minutes I’ll get off the van and you can have my seat then.” But I didn’t even say this to him.
It was the longest two minutes of my life and I could never forget the awful feeling that I had afterwards and every time I think about the scene.
Since then I promised myself to always be resourceful and to help people regardless of the situation. No matter how tiny our action is, if our intention is to help, it is a good deed. The old man did this by example He didn’t want to the driver to lose a potential income so he made a sacrifice. May you live a healthy and prosperous life, Sir.
I see it as the universe’s way of teaching me a lesson. If you keep your eyes open and be sensitive of others, life will surprise you in a way you never expect.
Rievanda Ayu Natasya is a soon-to-be 20 year old who is a sophomore in med school. She is fond of converting her thoughts into words."