Gulf Shores

Gulf Shores
Photographer Patricia Gulick

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

9/21/16 RMB Planes, Plans and Choices

9/21/16 RMB Planes, Plans and Choices

Dear Rita Mae Brown,

While our California skies are letting loose the first soft rain of the season, I’m slowly making my way through Claws and Effect and enjoying the small town feel of it. Every chance to read is like catching up with old friends.

In my car I finished listening to the book on CD Smarter, Faster, Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business. The author, Charles Duhigg, uses stories of actual events to illustrate his points. The difference between one flight crashing, taking with it hundreds of lives, and another flight narrowly avoiding the same fate, is human error and human preparedness.

Other lives and paths are examined, from saving a kidnap victim to saving the lives of individual students in a tough neighborhood with sometime unsurmountable challenges, and more.

Each story details the choices made along the way, for it is in those choices that the course is set for success or failure. Interesting how it is the early choices, to prepare, to think through the plan, to engage in the goal, that seem mundane, but ultimately sway the final outcome the most. For if one waits for the choices that are made in the final moments, at the homestretch of an endeavor, the wait is costly and the choices made at that point are too little and too late. As with the flight that didn’t make it, lives are lost. And in each person’s life, dreams slip away and life becomes something very different then it could have been.

As I drove home the other day, a car was stalled in my lane up ahead. I saw it with just enough time to move one lane to my left. The truck directly behind it, had parked, halfway in the line of traffic also. My guess is he found himself stuck behind the vehicle and couldn’t go forward. As I passed, I watched the man get out of his car to help push the vehicle. Two men were already trying to move it enough to get it turned on a side street and off the busy avenue.

The two men may have been friends of the driver, and so might the truck driver for that matter. But I glanced back again through my rear view mirror to see another man, on the opposite side of the street, pull over and run across lanes to get to the car and help push too.

Although they were at a slight incline, increasing the difficulty of the task, the car moved easily with the joined force of four men. The first three were white men. The last, who parked his car and dodged traffic to join the effort, was a black man.

Choices. Lending a helping hand to three men, makes one man an ambassador for all men of color. If human nature follows its regular course, the story of how they helped someone will be told, to each family, their children and friends.

That one act carries a grand weight in the course of things.  


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