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The Real World Isn’t So Distant
eleanor volkmann 14 contributing writer
March 3, 2011

You may have heard about the recent passing of Zephyr Rapinchuck, 18, in a skiing accident in Wyoming. For many, it will seem no different from any other awful news we hear everyday, simply because we are in a world where things go wrong as often as they go right.

But this was someone I knew. Not well, but we attended the same school. He graduated just last year, and any amount of time spent at a tight-knit school (with no more than 115 students) will inevitably create bonds between people, no matter how vague or roundabout. The news shook the community to the core—friends described the mood at school the next day as eerie and disconnected. No one knew what to do.

It is a profoundly startling notion, having memories of a person who is no longer physically with us. I do not in any way want to diminish what his family and those who knew him well must be feeling by saying I have any idea what it is like. I don’t. It is, however, at moments like these that you can see everyone around you stop, breathe, examine the pieces, and come together for support.

How, though, does this relate to us? Everyday we go about our busy lives, crowded with homework, sports, friends, and family. We are all so focused on our day-to-day lives that sometimes—often, really—we forget the bigger picture. This is true for me. Preoccupied with problems and successes of my own, this event was a shocking reminder to appreciate what we have, and to remember the bonds that hold us together as a community and as people, no matter how we speak or act or look.

It should not take an awful event, though it often does, for us to stop and examine what ties us together and what we mean to each other. There comes a time when each of us can comprehend the truth of this, for one reason or another.

It is startling to realize that we have not been truly remembering, or really seeing those around us. All we can hope is that it does not require something so drastic to bring about this insight.

Much of our lives require trivial thinking such as deciding what to wear tomorrow. However, once in a while, look in the back of your mind for the things that really matter. Whatever they are, remember them, for yourself and for each other; for it is the least that we, the very, very lucky ones, can do.