A Day Well Spent – Thoughts From the Days Following the Paris Attacks

Story By: Danielle Scullon-Baer

Danielle Scullon

There were 129 people killed in the recent bombings in Paris, France, many of whom were close to my age.

Yet, since nobody I knew was affected by the attack, it was hard for me to relate to what had happened. Obviously I was sympathetic for the victims, but it was hard for me to imagine this scenario happening to me.

The next day I found out that a recent graduate from my university had passed away. It hit close to home for me because he was in the same program and we shared multiple friends. His passing made me realize that dying young could be a reality for me.

Just a few hours before learning about his passing, I had only felt sorrow for the victims of the terrorist attacks in France. But hearing about such a tragic accident that had occurred so close to home, I had the realization that anyone could be the victim of a tragic scenario like this… even me.

Growing up I had always assumed that I would live a long and fulfilling life. I would get married, have children and grandchildren, and die of old age many years from now. As naïve as it sounds, I always assumed that I would have an abundance of time to live. These deaths made me realize that everything that I had imagined for myself might not become a reality.

My mind was consumed with the thought of death in the days following these events. Questions flooded my mind.

Why didn’t this happen to me? Could I be next? How do I proceed?

I felt like I immediately needed to re prioritize my life – that I needed to make every day important. The new question that came to my head was: How do I do that? I decided that making every day important meant squeezing everything that I cared about into one day. I tried to work hard at my internship, do all of homework, read news articles, spend time with my family and friends, etc…. all in one day.

I completely burned myself out trying to make my days “important.”  By trying to accomplish everything and with death consuming my thoughts, I felt like I had accomplished nothing.

This strategy towards making every day fulfilling clearly wasn’t working. I knew for sure that this was not what life was about.

That’s when it hit me. I will never know what is in store for me in the future. Nobody will. My life could end as a victim to a terrorist attack, or I could die after graduation. The possibilities are endless. But when I hit my pillow after a long day, just as long I feel happy, I know that that’s a day well spent. And that’s what matters.

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