I just read a really moving post over at No Impact Man, about his accidental killing of a pigeon. Colin tells of how he was running late, and so didn’t slow down his bicycle when he came up to an old man feeding the pigeons on the cycle path. He assumed that they would fly away in time, but one didn’t and was crushed under his wheels. His distress is evident throughout the post, and he concludes with “I’m so sorry that I killed that pigeon. I’m so sorry to have upset that old man. And I see, yet again, that if I want to hurt this world less, I must also do what I can to keep my mind peaceful, and to pay attention, and to not get distracted by petty concerns from what is really important.” I posted the following comment, which I have decided to reproduce here, because it forms a core part of my philosophy for life.
“Do you know, we have a saying in our family: ‘What’s for you, won’t go passed you’. I think the Chinese proverb version is ‘No snowflake falls in the wrong place’. Basically, what they both amount to, is that what happened that day, happened for a reason. Maybe it was so that you could come to the realisation that you need to rise above petty concerns. If this is the case, wouldn’t you say that the pigeon did not die in vain. That pigeon has played an important role, in fact, because not only has it spurred you on to alter your own perceptions, but you have used the experience to effect the same response in others. Bad things happen in life, we make bad decisions, we make mistakes and we invariably say something hurtful (albeit unintentionally). What’s important is that we are aware of what we have done, and make sure that next time we do it better. We need to forgive ourselves, and move on from the experience a better person. Sorry this has ended up a bit lengthy, but I truly hope that you can regain your peace of mind.”
I’m not of the view that everything in our lives is pre-destined, and that we have no power to control what happens to us. I believe that we do have the power to shape our own destiny, but that events happen in our lives which can help us on our way. Maybe it’s the optimist in me, but I genuinely think that, after a period of reflection, the only outlook to adopt is a positive one. By altering our perspective from the negative to the positive, we can begin to live a life of gratitude. And this can only be a good thing!