What did I mean by failure? It meant I’d never try to earn a PhD, never successfully manage a large organization for the good of many, never attain great wealth and all the perquisites appertaining thereto, never become loved and admired by the masses, never leave behind a lasting body of creative work for the enjoyment of succeeding generations, never lift great numbers of my fellow human beings out of spiritual or secular poverty, never solve any of the great scientific riddles of my time. No, instead I’d soon be lost in the herd and after my death quietly disappear.
I lowered my sights. Smaller kindnesses might create positive causes that swirl through our limited universe to help others in an unending chain. Yes, it might’ve been enough to stop along the road to help a poor woman in a dusty, dented car with two skinny, quiet unhappy kids inside—kids with too many uncles. I changed her flat tire in the rain. Afterward she stuffed two dollars in my shirt pocket. I didn’t want to accept it, but decided refusing the payment, which she could ill afford, would slight her pride far more than it would deplete her pocketbook.