A friend told me that she almost died in her early twenties. She said she thought she had been spared because one of her as yet unborn offspring (my word, not hers) or their offspring would do something vital. Perhaps, for example, her young granddaughter will grow up to be president. (Frankly, I think she shouldn’t set her sights so low.) It made me sad that she thought her importance to the world lay not in herself, but in her grandchildren, and it got me to thinking about what makes us important.
Most of us will never be known outside of our circle of family and friends, will never even have fifteen minutes of fame. Most of us will never change the world or make an earthshaking discovery. Most of us will never be wildly successful, though many of us will be quietly successful — at living, if nothing else. Most of us will never satisfy all our dreams, though we will be mostly satisfied with the dreams that do come true. In other words, in the eyes of the world, most of us will never be important.
And yet . . .
We unimportant folks are people of peace. We don’t start wars, don’t start fights, and seldom start arguments. We give more than we take. We nurture more than we smother, help more than hinder, solve more problems than we generate. We create more than we destroy. We try to do the right thing, though we don’t always know what that might be. We appreciate more than we denigrate. We are often kind and seldom mean. We usually give credit where credit is due and don’t demand more credit than we deserve. We are seldom prejudiced, and if we are, we never let our bias get in the way of how we treat others. We are grateful more than we are regretful.
We value a rich life more than we value a life of riches. We care for this world and for the creatures that depend on it. We feast on beauty, though we might not always agree on what is beautiful. (Besides sunsets. We all see the beauty in sunsets. Not one of us has ever looked at a sunset and said, “oh, how hideous.”)
We love more than we hate.
So, even though most of us will never be considered important, we are probably more important to the world than those who are considered important. And that is the wonder of us.
Pat Bertram is the author of the conspiracy novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.”