Life can sometimes be so cruel.
A couple of days ago I was on a morning walk (some would say stroll) when I saw a young kid getting picked on by other kids who were obviously bigger and talked tougher than him.
It was all words, no violence, but sometimes that can be just as cruel.
The story ends without incident but I couldn’t help but think about that boy this week, and about how I wish I’d grabbed him to tell him that life is about much more than what it looks like right now.
Eventually, you get to pick the people you socialise with and you get to make your own luck.
Same morning, but an hour later – and with the suit and tie on rather than the very attractive strolling shorts – I heard a young 12-year-old girl ring the 2UE breakfast program.
She spoke to Jason Morrison about being teased at school about her weight.
She spoke about how her tag would sometimes fall out of her dress, and people would tease the number that appeared.
Hopefully she realises one day that people ultimately judge you on who you are as a person and not what you look like.
And I think fundamentally that’s true. Yes, we all like to have a bit of fun with celebrities and the like sometimes, but when reality sets back in, it is the word of a person we really care about.
With a head as tragic as mine, I’ve had to ensure that my word means something and if that’s one of your goals in life you’ll go a long way.
Goal number two, by the way, is to always be on time. Being late is not on.
So yes, life can be cruel.
We can’t pick what we look like.
We can’t choose our family.
We can’t stop fate, and we don’t know when something, or someone, will change our lives forever.
How tragic it was this week to hear of the death of a 17-year-old local boy in an apparent hit and run at Emu Plains.
The life of Rhys Walker had hardly begun.
Here was a kid who was aiming to fill a passion for song and dance despite being diagnosed with cerebral palsy as a toddler.
Three years in the Australian Youth Choir was already under his belt, and he was planning his 18th birthday.
That 18th birthday party will never come and his family has been left with many questions that will hopefully be answered in the fullness of time.
When I read about Rhys’ story this week, I thought back to the kid on the side of the street on Monday morning.
It could have been him.
Wrong place, wrong time and it may have been.
And that kid’s last day on this Earth would have started with a scared look in his eyes as bigger kids teased him about his weight and questioned his worth as a human being.
We never know when a tragedy is going to strike, when our last day will be here.
I’d like to say that’s why I never go to bed with an unanswered question, but I think I have to blame my impatience on that one.
The question of the unknown when it comes to life and death is poignant in a week that we remember the thousands of lives lost in the September 11 terrorist attacks.
Can you believe it has been 10 years since that remarkable day?
We’re starting to get to that stage when a generation arrives that can’t remember the night our eyes were fixated on the images that seemed to be from a movie, not real life.
The lives affected by those attacks number in the tens of thousands.
And none of them had a choice.
None of them could have done anything differently to change the course of what happened on that morning in America.
Fate, apparently, had a plan.
This weekend, we will see the images of what happened on that fateful morning over and over again.
They are images that will spark horrible memories for those involved.
And it’s even worse for those who were left with unanswered questions.
Many would have left for work that morning, in a rush, promising to deal with issues and problems later.
Later never came.
Many of us, each and every day, go to work with some mantra.
Yet so many don’t return home.
It’s a horrible but very real reality that today could be our last day on this planet. It probably won’t be, but it could be.
I don’t expect there’s too many school bullies reading this column, but I guess that’s not the point.
My point is that we can’t help what life dishes us up.
What we do know is that we’re all here for an amount of time, and to spend any of that time making life more difficult for others just seems like a waste.
Too often we plan for the future without thinking for the present.
Too often we plot revenge, aim to get our own back or simply take pleasure in making others miserable.
Life is no good without a good plan, but if you’re always planning, you are never doing.
Do something useful today. For you and for someone else.