This was how I learned that choices have consequences.
My sister Irene and were coloring on the bed. I was around 5 which would have made Irene about 3. I don’t remember the logistics here because it seems odd to color on a soft surface but we were kids, so we were making it work. We were just passing the time as children often do, amusing themselves and creating worlds in their imaginations.
There was a very tall dresser next to the bed. On top of the dresser was one of the crayons from the set we were using.
Irene asked me to get the crayon.
While I don’t remember all of the details, I know that Irene fell off the bed trying to reach the crayon on the dresser. She was in pain. My mother came running and after assessing the situation, told her to lie down. Eventually, we had to take her to the emergency room and I remember her arm being in a sling for a while.
I didn’t get in trouble but I didn’t have to get in trouble for things to impact me.
I knew it was my fault that she got hurt.
There are thousands of little interactions that shape me as a person. I learn little lessons all the time that impact my personality and my approach to life and other people. As I get older the number of very impactful events grow fewer and fewer since I’ve continued to learn but they still happen.
I learned that sometimes with simple actions I can prevent others from experiencing suffering.
I learned that I sometimes have skills and abilities that others need.
I learned that a request for help should never be ignored.
While it isn’t the only reason, it’s probably one of the reasons I volunteer today. I’m able to directly affect someone else’s experience, hopefully make it easier.
My experience of Irene’s pain that day, helped me to be more empathetic to other people, their needs and their experience.
While I don’t live my entire life devoted to the service of others, it has shaped who I am and what I value.
Irene’s collarbone healed but it left a lasting impression on me.