It is my view that life is not about grand gestures, but rather a multitude of small acts; individually almost unnoticeable. Out of the innumerable beings that exist, only a relative few accumulate positive karma toward a precious human birth via a great act—martyrdom, or saving another’s life, for instance. Heck, precious few receive a precious human birth, period.
At any rate, one plays a dangerous game if one depends upon such an eventuality to ensure rebirth in the human realm. One may reach the end of this life still waiting on that opportunity, having squandered countless chances to build positive karma along the way. It would be like deciding not to work and earn income because you expect to win the lottery.
Nor should one seek out a bold act, perhaps by putting oneself in harm’s way, in the hope of hitting the karma jackpot. Even if successful, your store of positive karma may still not be sufficient and, depending upon the outcome, you may no longer be able to accumulate karma of any kind in this lifetime.
We may, in fact, do great things with our lives. My point is not to say we are not destined for such. To the contrary, I believe we are. But I don’t believe we are called to live life saving up for the big moment. I believe we are called to spend every moment like a big moment, in search of opportunities to commit acts of compassion and love of all sizes, to give of ourselves, to make others’ lives better.
The big things may indeed come along, and if we have lived this life of daily compassion we will be well prepared to act.
I think of compassion like a particular muscle that requires daily exercise to remain strong, and which otherwise atrophies rapidly. Using that muscle daily to show love in myriad ways makes it strong, supple, and conditioned for endurance, for the long haul. Occasional heavy lifting with that muscle will not build it up as well, and certainly will not give it the responsiveness and endurance it will require when the big need, the opportunity for a major contribution, does indeed come along.