Act with Intent: Redux

To extend the concept that I wrote about in the last entry, I wanted to explore and share a few more ideas on this subject. This idea of “acting with intent,” working to be thoughtful and present in the actions in our lives, is relevant to young and old alike. Regardless of whether we are students or professionals, children or parents, we are often faced with situations and challenges that call for a moment of consideration before diving into action.

Recently I encouraged a dear friend to read Sun Tzu’s “Art of War” and watch the movie, “The Reader.” Since seeing the film for the first time last year, I have continued to think about, and be challenged by, a number of its themes and messages. While there are many concepts and issues brought to life, the film makes a dramatic statement about taking action. More than halfway through the film, there is a very quick scene in which the young protagonist is having a private conversation with his law professor. In an effort to gain advice, the student shares the details of a complex dilemma that he is facing. His professor responds strongly:

“What we feel isn’t important, it’s utterly unimportant.
The only question is what we do.”

While I can’t say that I believe all of our emotions, feeling and intentions are “unimportant,” the film makes an extremely strong point that we are all judged by our actions – or inactions – not our intentions and feelings.

As a final thought on this subject, I wanted to share a quote from President Obama’s eulogy for Senator Edward M. Kennedy:

“We cannot know for certain how long we have here. We cannot foresee the trials or misfortunes that will test us along the way. We cannot know what God’s plan is for us.

What we can do is to live out our lives as best we can with purpose, and with love, and with joy. We can use each day to show those who are closest to us how much we care about them, and treat others with the kindness and respect that we wish for ourselves. We can learn from our mistakes and grow from our failures. And we can strive at all costs to make a better world, so that someday, if we are blessed with the chance to look back on our time here, we know that we spent it well; that we made a difference; that our fleeting presence had a lasting impact on the lives of others.”
It should be all of our aspirations to work hard to make tomorrow better than yesterday. To make mistakes, but not be derailed by them, ever looking forward to what we may do to make a “better world.” To realize that while our time is “fleeting,” we CAN and DO have a “lasting impact” on those around us.