Sometimes life is merely going through the motions.  We go to bed at night because it is dark out and the only thing left on TV are infomercials and we really don’t have any interest in purchasing a mop, no matter how remarkable they may try to make it look.  It’s still just a mop. 

            We get up in the morning because the alarm clock goes off and we need to go to work, or get the children off to school.  And then we find ourselves at our job, doing whatever we do, because it’s what we do at that time in the morning.  We get milk and eggs on the way home because we noticed we needed them or because our spouse called up and asked us to get them.  And so another day concludes and the cycle begins anew.

            Most of our days are not what we would call exciting—and it’s just as well.  I had a police officer friend tell me that his job is 99 percent boredom, one percent exciting.  He said that one percent was really better described as sheer terror.  The same thing might be said of soldiers: hurry up and wait. 

            Boring is under-appreciated I think.  If you read a novel or watch a movie or television show, you’ll notice, if you think about it, that it doesn’t much resemble your own life.  And if you think about it a bit more, you’ll realize that you are thankful for that.  For instance, as fun as it is to watch Battlestar Galactica, to actually live that sort of life would be awful.  Who really wants to be trapped in the flotilla of spaceships with the less than fifty thousand survivors of a genocidal attack that wiped out all the rest of humanity?  And do you really want to be chased by robots all across the galaxy?   

The same can be said of the less dramatic shows, such as Two and a Half Men.  After all, the line between comedy and tragedy is often a matter of timing and whether it is happening to someone other than you.  Watching someone slip and fall on a banana peel is funny.  Doing it yourself is merely painful.

            I recently watched the movie Amazing Grace, which tells the story of William Wilberforce, the early nineteenth century Member of Parliament in Great Britain who worked for more than twenty years to get the slave trade outlawed.  I found the story inspirational and moving. His is the story of a man whose life mattered: a man who achieved something noteworthy.  The movie took me only two hours to watch.  But it took Wilberforce a lifetime to go through it.

            The bulk of Wilberforce’s days were not unlike ours: getting up in the morning, taking baths, getting dressed, eating meals, shopping, paperwork: the mundane drudgery that makes up every life.  The movie cuts all that out, of course, and leaves only the highlights.  If we imagine that the life of the people who we believe are heroes, who have experienced great excitement, are significantly different than ours, we are mistaking the movies for reality.  Think about your own life: the accolades you’ve garnered, the games won and lost, the vacations enjoyed, the roller coasters ridden, the battles fought, the graduations, the child births, the tragedies and joys, and anything else that springs to your mind.  The excitements are but a fraction of the time spent: mostly it’s just school, work, sleep, and standing in lines.

            Your life is no less worthy than that of a Wilberforce.  You too, affect the lives of those around you, whether it is the children you raised or the friends and family you touched.  The world would be measurably poorer without you.  Don’t ever believe the lie—and lie it is—that somehow you don’t matter because you’re not famous, or rich, or have not achieved the visions for yourself that you held as a teenager.  What teenager really knows what’s important, anyhow?

The value of a life is not measured in the fame it has achieved, the number of toys it has purchased, or the size of its bank account.  The value of a human being comes from simply being a human being: each life is a world beyond measure and worth.  The Talmud says that to save a life is to save a world.  So celebrate your world.


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