Stilwell Junior High School
West Des Moines, IA
Dear Wendy Mass,
I'm not very good with keys. I'm the kind of person that will embarrassingly struggle for about five minutes before realizing the key is upside down. There's always that moment of frustration where you're trying to figure out what you're missing and why it's not working. This is how I felt about Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life for the longest time. It confused me and I worked to figure out what was the message of it. Wake up, go to school, come home, and go to bed. Every day would be this way if we didn't do something to remember them by. I would waste time worrying about the big test I just took today, or the audition in three weeks. I wondered while reading it if I could do something like Jeremy and his dad to remember my life by.
I decided after reading about their rock collection that I would find my own special way to postmark events. I chose to mark each day by being nicer towards people and giving acts of kindness to everyone. I never know what someone else might be going through and a simple smile and "hi" could mark an event that would mean a lot to them. My goal was to give at least three compliments each day. It seems small but there was some improvement.
I focused most of the attention on the people at my school that seemed to get bullied. They are all very nice people but lose some confidence and believe the things that the bullies say. I felt it would be a good way to remember my life to be able to say that in 8th grade I helped people get through the bullying struggles that they faced. A couple of things happened that surprised me.
When I first started my little "project" as you could call it, I started with a girl I had known when I was little who I had seen get bullied by some of her friends. She is very quiet but is also sweet. I would smile at her and say hi to her in the hallways and sometimes we would sit together at lunch. We talked more about how we should never believe what bullies say. She joined me in my project and we decided to focus our attention on everyone, instead of just the downtrodden. Other classmates, especially girls, noticed what I was doing. It has never become anything official but somewhere along the way of 7th and 8th grade we have developed a somewhat better community within our grade and school. I'm not saying that nobody is picked on or that everyone is always hunky- dory, but it is better than it was before. That was a shock to me. It was like what Jeremy and Lizzy did when working for Oswald Oswald; they made that person's day special by returning a forgotten piece of their past, whereas my goal was to make sure that the people in my community would never forget themselves.
I realized that the day I began giving compliments was one that I will always remember, and reading your book helped me understand that thinking of future worries and past issues are like thinking about the meaning of life. I believe you will only truly discover the meaning of life once you stop and just live it. This book taught me that I have to stop and think about how to make every day special for myself and others.