Recent tragic events teach students to live in the present

Zoë Newcomb

For many of my peers, high school is an excuse for ignorance. “We’re young,” they say, “We have the rest of ours lives to begin caring.” For others, like myself, high school is a time spent in limbo — accomplishing little, simply attempting to tame the uncertainties of the future.

I’ve spent the last three years of my life thinking about college. Ever since that fateful day I, a naïve freshman, created a CollegeBoard account and began to receive daily reminders of how little I have achieved in life. It’s easy to forget about the life you’re living when the future feels so much more important.

A few weeks ago, a sudden gas-line explosion in San Bruno took the lives of  at least seven people and destroyed a neighborhood. Two days later, on the ninth anniversary of 9/11, I learned that two of the victims were a 13-year-old girl and her mother with close ties to several of my friends.

It’s hard to understand how something two-degrees of separation away could still be so profoundly impacting, but it is.

Sadly, it seems that only events like these can force us to actually stop our fast-paced lives and take a moment to think. Those things that had seemed liked priorities fall away to reveal the true value of life. But it won’t last long.

Soon the television reporters will pack up, the memorials services will end and the houses will be rebuilt. CollegeBoard continues to email me daily — “Zoe, where are you?” or “Deadlines are coming.” Messages that create the illusion CollegeBoard actually cares about me as a person. And I’ll treat them as if they do — responding to them more often than my grandparents, investing time that could be spent with my family and friends.

We let the world tell us what matters. Getting ahead transcends everything else. But life will continue to speed by and then someday another disaster will hit, and we’ll have to stop and ask where all the time went.

High school is not just a time to be carefree nor is it a time to be burdened by the future. Its simply a time to live. Living a full life is not a about living a long one, but about embracing the days we have.

These past few weeks have been tragic beyond words, reminders of just how precious life is. I’m not one for cheesy one-liners or clichés, but just this once: live life to the fullest. We’ve all been blessed with just a few short moments on earth — I’m not going to waste them.

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