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Opinion

Tragedies remind us how lucky we are

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December 7, 2016

On Dec. 2, a fire broke out at a warehouse in Oakland, California. Unfortunately, there were mass casualties and the number is still climbing. The space was often used to host parties, like the one that that took place that night.

I have been following this story for the past few days, watching with sadness the number of fatalities increase every time I open a news article. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to go out for a night of fun, starting it with such excitement, and then ending it knowing that I am going to die.

Today, I opened an article from CNN called “‘I’m going to die mom:’ Oakland fire victim’s final text,” and I was almost brought to tears. A young woman who was consumed by the flames texted her mother in her final moments to inform her of her situation and to tell her that she loved her.

Although this situation is incredibly sad and it’s almost impossible to find a silver lining, I do think that stories like this should remind people just how lucky and blessed they are. I feel like a lot of people spend too much time sulking in their own problems. I know that I am guilty of this. I mean, half the time when I take a step back and reflect on what exactly I am complaining about, whatever it is isn’t that big of a deal.

For instance, the other day I was extremely annoyed because of a “chain of events.” It started out when I didn’t realize that my car’s windshield had a nice thick coat of frost covering it, so I didn’t leave myself enough time for it to defrost. In fact, I’m sure I walked out of the house later that day than I usually do. I was annoyed that I had to wait for the ice on my windshield to melt away. It was in that moment that I realized what the saying “waiting for paint to dry” truly means.

Then, after enough had melted so that I could see the streets in front of me, I had to double-time it from St. Paul up to River Falls, just to find that there were no parking spaces close to campus. I’m sure the annoyance that I felt that day can be understood at this point.

With that being said, looking back on it now, I can see how stupid the “problems” I was having that day were. When I think about the victims of that fire or even people in general who have unfortunate situations, I realize that instead of complaining about the little things in my life, I should be thankful that I am even well enough to drive my car to class! I think it’s terrible that unfortunate circumstances make me see the positivity in my life, but sometimes that’s just what it takes.

I do, however, think that it’s important for people like myself, to appreciate life and all that we have in the moment. We shouldn’t show gratitude for the lives that we live just when there has been news of a tragedy or a case of misfortune. We should feel grateful just because we woke up.