The Good Kind of Hit and Run (or Spiritual Lessons from NCIS)

OK, I admit that I watch (at least when I’m home and not otherwise occupied) NCIS. While I have no particular interest in military criminal investigations, I enjoy the camaraderie and interactions of the members of the NCIS team and I think some of the actors playing them are quite talented.

In this week’s episode, Abby, the more-than-slightly bizarre and brilliant forensic scientist, suffers a crisis. Usually upbeat, she questions whether she is “enough.” The case the team is currently handling brings back memories of her “first case,” her efforts as a child to reunite another child with her grandfather and a stuffed animal he had given her. Child Abby doesn’t succeed, although she commits and act of great kindness to the other child. The current case makes her feel that whatever she does isn’t enough to succeed in stopping bad things from happening.

The ending scene of the episode finds Abby sitting in the darkened NCIS office, where Gibbs (head of team, father figure – or at least wisdom figure – for Abby) finds her. When he asks her what is wrong, she tells him that she is “trying to figure out a way to be OK with not being enough.” “Enough, what?” Gibbs asks. “Enough good,” she answers. She can’t see any evidence that she does “enough” good.

Gibbs’ response to that is “Then you’re not counting hit-and-runs, the good kind.” You do something good now, he explains, and are not always around to see the difference it makes later. He then relays to her something she did the day they met, years before, that affected him deeply. What it is, doesn’t matter; that years later, something she did continues to make a difference to him does.

We all need to be reminded to count the “good kind” of hit-and-runs when we are thinking about our impact in the world. Once in a while, we get to see the fruits of an action. Years later, a student may call or write, talking about how something a teacher once said changed his life. You learn that a git that seemed minor to you meant everything to the person who received it.

But much of the time we don’t. And so we need to be reminded that we dont’ have to count up the successes to feel like we are enough. We just need to stay true to our mission.