What is Really Important?

A question has been puzzling me for several days now, and yesterday afternoon, it took root in my mind and just would not leave.  The question is “What is really important?” as in life.  What is important varies by person, by subject, and by the moment, I’m sure.  It varies by hearing good news, or by hearing bad news.  It varies for people with seasonal affective disorder, when the season is not the one they like, and it varies by how much money someone has in the bank, for some folks at least.  Yesterday, it varied for me because of this immense exam I have bearing down on me in two weeks, and it varied because I learned a friend’s cancer had recurred for the third time.

Studying for the bar exam, I have been trapped in my own little world, for the most part, for nearly six weeks.  I have not taken every waking moment to study (obviously – I’m typing this now), but I have spent as much time as possible trying to study, while at the same time taking some time to relax and just “be”, as that has helped calm my mind more than anything else.  Will I be more nervous on test day than I am now?  I’m sure I will have butterflies in my tummy, but honestly I have put in as much work as my life will allow, and it has been steady work – I didn’t start studying just last week and I have listened to every lecture that they suggested.  I have put in the time, and I’m still confident that I have the “minimal knowledge” that it takes to be a licensed attorney in my state.  We shall see come September 6 when the results are announced, but I do hope I am smarter than at least 30% of the people in my test taking class.  Surely.

Things are put into perspective by the most mundane events sometimes, and sometimes, it takes something unfortunately extraordinary to do that to a person’s mind.  This week, after a most awful day at work where people were more concerned with the color of something than things that were way more important, I learned that a friend’s cancer has recurred for a third time.  I thought yesterday afternoon as we were driving home, right after I got the news, that I bet she would love nothing more than to be arguing about a laminate color rather than being stuck again with needles and put through who knows what type of treatment, if any treatment is even available at this point.  I know that she would rather be getting yelled at on email than be laid up in a hospital bed, in pain, and worried if this will be her last time to be there, not because she’ll be healed but because she may never get to leave.  I hope for my friend that this will not be her last time to be there for that reason, and I hope for her to not be in pain anymore, either physically or spiritually.  I hope, but I do not know.  I do know that there are more important things in life than the bar exam or a laminate color, though, and I wish other people could see that the way I see it clearly today.

I hope for my friend, and I dedicate this column to her, in the hopes that someone will read it and be inspired to tell someone thank you today, without saying “but” behind it.  I hope someone out there will look at his own life and realize how much better it must be than my friend’s or many other people like her who are going through pain and misery due to disease, famine or poverty.  Be thankful for what you have, and most importantly, understand what is really important in life.  It’s most likely not whatever made you mad or upset today.  It’s most likely something so trivial, like a laminate color, and something that will make no difference to anyone at all.

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