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This I Believe: I Believe In Being In The Right Place At The Right Time

Essayist Jan Filiaggi

I believe in being in the right place at the right time.

Several years ago, my husband and I were traveling through Italy and stopped in Venice for a couple of days. Anyone who’s ever been to Venice knows about the maze-like streets and how easy it is to get lost. On this particular day, we were on a crowded narrow street consulting our map when I happened to look up and see a 4-year-old Asian girl wearing a red dress coming toward us on the other side of the street. As she looked around bewilderedly, I knew this little girl was lost.

In the next instant, a tall man wearing a belted brown raincoat swept up beside her, grabbed her hand, and continued walking. Immediately, and without thinking, I ran across the street and stopped right in front of him. I pointed my finger in his face and shouted, “NO!” He was at least three inches taller than me and powerfully built, but I was totally fearless. His mouth dropped open as he gaped at me. He let go of the child’s hand and I quickly pulled her to the side of the street as he kept on walking.

About 30 seconds later, her parents rounded the corner. I’ll never forget the horrified looks on their faces and how relieved they were when they saw her with me.

What are the chances I would look up at just the right time to spot her? What causes a person to risk their own life and act boldly to save someone else? I believe it comes down to setting our intention. I’m not talking about a specific intention to save someone, but a broader, more open-ended intention of simply doing good. Sometime during my formative years, I decided that I wanted to be someone who was helpful rather than harmful. Kind instead of brusque. Thoughtful instead of thoughtless.

In setting that intention, I was open to receiving positive impulses and inspiration, like tuning into a specific station on the radio. I began to see goodness everywhere, which strengthened my belief that there is more good than bad in this world. Of course, this can also work the opposite way and we can pick up a station that sends out negative signals. It all depends on what we focus on. When we look for the good we invariably find it, and when we believe the world is bad, harmful, and hopeless, we find evidence of that everywhere.

Believing in the good won’t make all the bad things go away. I know that. But I also know that I would like to feel inspired rather than hopeless, powerful rather than powerless. Inspiration and goodness can come from a variety of sources. But, what matters more than the source are the choices we make to tap into it each and every day.

I believe in looking for the good and connecting with the inspiration that sometimes puts us in the right place at the right time.

Jan Filiaggi volunteers with hospice and a peer grief support program called Tides.