I came across an article in my paper this morning that brought to mind an old nursery rhyme, a favorite of mine:
For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.
The earliest known written version of this rhyme appeared in 1390. 1390! So we’ve understood for a long, long time that our actions have consequences!
If the military had followed through and filed paperwork, if a sheriff had pursued charges of sexual assault, if information had gone to the proper authorities, then a man in Texas might never have been able to purchase weapons and twenty-six people might still be with us today. For want of a paper, a form, a charge…
We often think about that nursery rhyme in terms of how bad things can happen if we’re not careful, not attentive to taking care of the little things. But the smallest of our actions can just as readily have a positive impact.
If a teacher offers to stay after school to help a struggling student, if a cashier spends a few extra minutes to talk to the elderly widower shopping on Senior Discount Day, if you or I take a moment to write an encouraging note to a friend whose work has been rejected once again, then maybe a life will be changed for the better.
For want of a smile, a kind word, a listen…
Yep, our lives are filled with those “if” moments. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could make ’em good ones?