I look around every day and see people who don’t understand much about life. All they think about is getting through that day because that day is horrible. Those people are focused on frivolous things. That day won’t matter 5 years from now, so why care so much about it today? That is the sad thing about humanity. People need tragedy to help them understand what really matters. I can’t say that I’ve never been concerned with pointless things, or that I don’t now, but I realize that it really doesn’t matter if I my hair won’t do what I want it to or if my computer shuts off before I save my homework. It just doesn’t matter.
I had a really bad day, a year ago. It was the day I took the PSAT. Once the test was over I felt this overwhelming sense of relief, because the hardest part of the day was over, everything else would just flow, because that’s how it always is. I finally finish something important and feel good about it, and then I go home, do my homework, go to bed, and then wake up and do it allover again. Nothing special, nothing life-changing, just plain and simple. I was content doing nothing but the norm every day. I was floating along on that sea of tranquility sailors hope for. But so blinded was I by the dullness of my life that I failed to see that dark cloud that was rushing toward my ship.
“There’s been an accident.” I remember the exact words my dad spoke. “Kelly was shot. She’s dead.” My ship jarred and tipped toward the gaping black water that churned beneath its hull. The storm was so strong, and my ship too weak to endure it. My ship toppled over, pitching me into the depths of the sea.
So much of my life, has been based around that day. I wouldn’t be so arrogant to say that I am who I am today because of it. But I can say that because of Kelly I am who I am today. She was just like me, same attitude, same cynicism, but very different ideas of what matters. A day doesn’t matter. I could be sorry that I didn’t realize it sooner, but that wouldn’t matter either. Maybe she knew all along that nothing would matter in the end, except the people she knew. I know that knowing her mattered. Knowing me mattered to her. It all still matters. Every one of the people I know and will ever know matter. Everything else is pointless.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.