Have you ever been in a life threatening situation in which you were confronted with a choice between life and death? If you were not alone, the experience could have been made extremely difficult if you had to choose between yourself and someone else. I was once lost in a jungle where I had had to make such a choice.
Perhaps it was just as well that I was still young when I had my first brush with death. As you experience life, it can leave you jaded. There, someone broke your heart. Here, someone was vicious and selfish. Or perhaps, someone took advantage or said or did something unpleasant. It is easy to start believing that life is about self-preservation; that life is about being inwardly focused lest the world tramples upon you. Really, who is to say what is behind that smiling visage? In such a world, can you dream of protecting someone else at the cost of your own life?
Great masters say that a life well lived is one in which you evolve. Perhaps, evolution is about first transcending beyond your experiences. Transcending is about understanding that experiences are by their very nature positive and negative; that people make their choices driven by their limited understanding of life. Perhaps you could evolve enough to understand that the person experiencing is not you. The real you is the person observing these experiences. Once you do this, it is not impossible. Enough that when confronted your instinctive reaction is to rise above yourself. It is not entirely uncommon, in fact, stories abound – soldiers, firemen, even ordinary Joe’s. Such an outlook can occur if you see life as always flowing, much like a river. Sometimes, this flowing river may have left you unsettled but no matter isn’t the self bigger than the sum of your experiences?
Greatness occurs when you can make this your life instead of a transient response.