Everything Matters

Characters:

Daniel:  A 65-year-old man

Dan: Daniel’s younger self at age 20

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Daniel: (whispering, smiling gently) Shhhh, Dan. Don’t wake up. This is a dream. 

Dan:  (groggily) Huh?

Daniel: (speaking more clearly) I am a voice from your future. Actually, I am your voice from your future.

Dan: (curious, but not afraid) What? Who are you?

Daniel: I’m Daniel. I’m you. Age 65.

Dan: But…

Daniel: (interrupting) Just go with this for a bit. Let’s see where this takes you. Where this takes us.

Dan: (emerging from the somnolent cloud, then open to what happens next) Um… ok.

Daniel: (firmly now and for the rest of the dialog) I am here, in your torpid mind, to provide you a simple message based on experience.  A message of advice, as it were.

Dan:  Ok… I’m ready.

Daniel: Great.  The message is this:  It matters. It all matters.

Dan: What matters?

Daniel: Everything.  Everything you do. Everything you think.  Every decision you make. Every decision you try to avoid. Everything.

Dan: What do you mean, “everything?”

Daniel: I mean everything.  In the next 45 years you will be frequented by what feels like big decisions. Which college you go to.   What classes you take.  Whether you want something called a career, and then what career path you pursue.

Dan: Those are huge decisions alright.

Daniel:  But there is more. Much more.  Who will you decide to date? Who will you decide to love? All those choices matter.

Dan: Well, what’s surprising about that? Those are the choices that trouble me now.  So of course, they matter.

Daniel: Yes, but everything else matters too. Even the day-to-day.  The seemingly insignificant.

Dan: The insignificant?

Daniel:  The seemingly insignificant. Yes. Every time you decide to work late to finish something on deadline. Every moment you procrastinate and knock yourself for doing so. Every flash in which you come up with a creative solution, or every crushing instant you’re dumbfounded and lost.  It might feel smaller than that still. Much smaller.  The hikes you take and the outings you forgo. The dessert you eat or skip.  The beer you drink or don’t. Hell, will it be an IPA or a stout? Everything matters.

Dan: (with a tad of incredulity) Everything?

Daniel: Every sentence you say.  Every smile or frown. Every jot and tittle.  Every whim or wisp. Everything blessed or cursed. Every blooming thing.  It all matters.

Dan: (now irritated and annoyed) Why are you saying this?  What are you doing to me? Why do you place this burden on my shoulders?  Who can live a balanced, healthy life of accomplishment, connections and joy if there are always these expectations for perfection?

Daniel: (calmly and with kindness) Dan, I think you may be missing my essential point if this feels like a burden. Everything matters is not about obligation. It is about fact. And it is about opportunity.

 It is a truth that every thought, every action you take throughout your life, affects the sum of what you become.  It is a truth that every moment is an expression of who you have become and who you are. And it is a truth that every moment is an opportunity to learn from your past and become more the person you want to be in the now.  In your next 45 years, through all the decisions, whether they seem large or small, I know that you will do a perfect job of creating what I am today.

My message for you now, is that overall, you and I and the infinite versions of ourselves in between, ended up doing just fine.

Dan: (calmed somewhat, but still skeptical) I suppose that is supposed to be inspiring. Or at least soothing.  But it’s also daunting and not in a slight way intimidating.

Daniel: Perhaps so.  But it is also your fate. I wager it feels about right too.  Because I rather know you pretty well.  And, happily enough, I say to you with a confidence borne from a reflective reality, everything ended up mattering to me. And in the end, everything will have mattered to you.

9 thoughts on “Everything Matters

  1. Food morning, Daniel.

    That was fun to read again. Really makes one think.

    I would like to submit an idea to your writing class, if you find it interesting enough:

    Write a story from the perspective of the family pet. It can be a dog, cat, bird, fish, whatever. I think the results from your writing comrades would be interesting, and maybe very funny.

    On another note, I’m so excited about your trip to Hawaii! What a wonderful way to celebrate the re-emergence into life after a year of covid restrictions that kept us all house-bound. I’m sure you’ll come up with several stories to write about and I can’t wait to read them.

    Thanks for sharing, Daniel. Love to you and Jean.

    Cathy

    Sent from Mail for Windows 10

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  2. Brother,
    You are channeling your inner Socrates with such gusto. Maybe we can get the NYT to drop Brooks and replace him with you!

    Looking forward to your reading on the 14th.

    Love,
    O

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  3. An interesting introspection. But I wonder. If the 20-year-old Dan really proceeded through life with the assumption that EVERY choice he made mattered, might he not become a trembling bundle of paranoid neuroses? I wonder if the conscious-of-every-choice Dan would have indulged in all those Red Beers at Spud & Elma’s that night in December 1978. Following the same dictum, would Dan’s likewise intoxicated friend Brian have jumped in Dan’s rattletrap little Volkswagen and gone along to spend a shivering night in that tilting icebox of a grounded houseboat on Mud Bay? They might have spared themselves nasty hangovers and ugly chill blains, true, but would also have missed out on a lifetime of retelling that story. Or was this an example of a bad choice ultimately being the right choice? Hmmm. My head’s starting to pound again.

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    1. Specifically, the 65 yo Daniel was pleased that the 20 yo Dan had such a good friend who ended up an important part of his life 45 years later and who’s drunken graduation experience provided more long term refrains than short term pains.

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