I wrote the post below about 9 months ago on March 27th and it was read over 200,000 times on my blog.
This column quickly went viral, but that was never my intent; I was just telling a story the way it happened. This article was by far the most read I have ever written, but more importantly it was a huge reason why I kept writing in general. Recently I was made aware of a string of teen suicides in my hometown of Midland, Texas. It breaks my heart to hear about young people that saw no other way out. It breaks my heart to imagine thinking that death is an escape. To those families dealing with the loss of a loved one, I am persistently praying for you. Everyone has so much to live for, and everyones life is valuable and precious. I just wanted to repost this column in hopes that it will again create a ripple that touches someone I might not ever meet. That is my hope and prayer. If you are read this and feel like you have no one to talk to, you can always talk to me. Feel free to shoot me an email. This is a story of connectedness. This is a story simply told the way it happened.
When Ripples Collide 3-27-11
Let me start by saying I’m not sure how to convey this story in words. Words don’t do it justice but I’ll try.
Have you ever watched rain fall on a lake? Each raindrop creates its own ripple. When you combine the millions of raindrops and the millions of ripples that each singularly creates, you have a countless number of overlapping ripples that all have an effect on one another. The cool thing about this is that each raindrops ripple has an effect on the other ripples in the lake, even if it’s just in a small way. This is how people operate on a daily basis. We are individual raindrops in a huge lake. Of course each of us has our own ripple, but our lives are primarily made up of other peoples ripples crashing into our own. Many people like to think that our ripples crash randomly into each other without purpose or reason. Maybe that’s true, but then again maybe it’s not true at all. Perhaps I can help you decide. Maybe this story is the result of many ripples just coincidentally crashing into each other. Or maybe each ripple was ordered, measured, weighed, named, and timed perfectly to synchronize with the others to save a life.
The story I am about to tell shows what happens when ripples collide perfectly.
Just about every day someone approaches me and tells me how much they enjoy my writing, this is always humbling because I was never a good writer while I was in school. It’s strange to now be a published writer and have zero writing experience or background. It’s even more insane to get a request to speak to a high school creative writing class! What do I say? “Hi, my name is Baron. I failed English, let me show you my writing skills?” I’m not really sure how things got to this point where writing is such a huge part of who I am. Maybe it’s all a coincidence. Maybe everything is just random, and this is another one of my crazy hobbies that I have picked up; just like the time I watched the Karate Kid marathon and then researched bonsai trees and decided I needed one. Or maybe there is a reason, maybe there is an order, maybe there could possibly be a plan.
Maybe someone, somewhere, at some time, needed to read something that I would at some point write.
Would it be far-fetched to say that there is a reason you are standing where you are standing at this exact moment and reading these words at this exact time? Would it be far fetched to say that a small decision that you see as pointless or routine could save a life? Perhaps we are all far more connected than anyone can see or comprehend. Maybe one day you will save my life. It’s not as far-fetched as you may think. Maybe everything is just a coincidence, but maybe its not.
Get on board, buckle up, and lets take a trip.
Back in August I approached the Midland Reporter Telegram and the Lubbock Avalanche Journal about possibly writing a weekly column chronicling my senior year at Texas Tech. After talking with both papers I came to the decision that my column would run every Wednesday. Maybe the fact that we agreed on Wednesday was simply random. What if we would have decided on a Thursday? No biggie right? Would if be far-fetched to say that this would be a life or death decision?
As the season progressed I continued to write every week. However, it became increasingly difficult to write my column especially after a loss. People said that I wasn’t focused and it was hurting the team. There were weeks I told myself that I was just going to quit writing. I rationalized my thinking by telling myself that I should probably just focus all my attention on football, and that writing was distracting me. It probably wouldn’t have been a big deal if I had missed a week right? Every part of me wanted to quit writing my column. After the Oklahoma State loss I decided I was going to discontinue my column. A friend talked me into continuing my writing by saying “maybe someone needs to hear something you have to say Baron.” I decided not to stop. I’m glad I didn’t.
This is where ripples collide.
Last Monday I had all 4 of my wisdom teeth removed. It’s not as bad as everyone makes it out to be, so the next day I decided that I wanted to have a steak. As I was strolling through the meat section of the supermarket directly violating the dentists orders to eat only soft foods, something happened that changed the way I will use the word random.
As I was checking out the price on ribeye steaks an older man came up to me with his hand extended and said, “Your Baron Batch and I just want to shake your hand and say thank you”.
I could tell by the look in his eyes that the handshake meant much more than I imagined. The look in his eyes was different than if he was just a regular Texas Tech fan. The man just continued to shake my hand while staring at me; it started to get awkward the amount of time his hand clung to mine. I thought to myself “gees this guy is acting like I saved his life or something.” Finally he let go of my hand but still didn’t speak a word. Of all the awkward Texas Tech fan moments I have experienced this one had been the most awkward for sure. I got nervous when he prefaced his conversation with “I don’t expect you to respond to what I’m about to tell you”
Finally he released his grasp and spoke words that I will never forget. This is what he said:
You saved my life. Five months ago I had given up, I was going to end it all. It was a Wednesday (ripple 2). I felt like I had nothing else to live for. I had my pistol in my lap while I sat at my desk. I had set newspaper out around the floor so I wouldn’t make a mess for whoever found me. I was about to do it. Right before I pulled the trigger I looked down and saw a piece of newspaper that said, “The easiest thing in the world to do is quit.” I put the gun down and started to read more. It was a column that you had written. Your column saved me. Thank you.
I’m glad that he told me that he didn’t expect me to respond because I was speechless. I was in awe. I was stunned. Before I could even think of anything to say back to him he said, “I’m doing much better now. I feel like you just needed to know that you’re making a huge difference.” Then he walked away.
I’m not an emotional person at all but I almost cried in the meat section of the United Supermarket. At that exact moment all of those random coincidences swirled into one beautiful event that made perfect sense.
What if I had chose to have my column run on a Thursday instead of a Wednesday? It would have been a day late. What if I had given up writing my column simply because the season wasn’t going as I wanted? There are hundreds of ripples that if any had been changed would have NOT resulted in the perfect situation for that man to sit the gun down. What if my column had been printed on another page of the newspaper? I was in complete awe, and still am.
I was curious to find out what the exact column the man had read by what he described it said.
This is why I am even more in awe. I went back and found out what column he had read and this is the paragraph he saw.
“The easiest thing in the world to do is quit on something. Quitting takes zero effort. Quitting can even be justified with excuses and legitimate reasons at times. When someone quits at something they can even lie to themselves by saying that what they quit on wasn’t that important. To those people with that mentality this is what I have to say. If it was important enough to start, it is important enough to finish. Don’t quit. Hold on, cling to what is yours until your fingers cramp; and once your fingers cramp switch hands.”
I wrote that column on October 18th after a loss to Oklahoma State in mid October. There are a few reasons why I find it mind blowing that was the column that the man had read.
I wasn’t going to write a column that week. After the Oklahoma State loss I had decided I wasn’t going to write anymore. The reason I wrote about not quitting in my column that week was because I really wanted to quit and never write again. Good thing I didn’t quit.
The other is reason that its mind blowing that was the column that the man read is because of the date it was actually written. When I went back and looked on my blog history, the date I posted that was October 18th. So why is that date important?
Let me tell you why, and I’m getting chills as I write this. October 18th was the date I broke my ankle my freshman year. The reason this date is important to me is because if I wouldn’t have been injured I would have never redshirted, and in result would have only played at Texas Tech for 4 years instead of 5; meaning that this past season for me wouldn’t have existed, and neither would the column I wrote.
In all reality the only reason any of you are reading this right now is simply because I was at the wrong place at the wrong time on October 18th 2006 around 3:30pm and broke my ankle my freshman year. Or maybe the reason you are reading this is because I was at the perfect place at the perfect time and broke my ankle so that our ripples would collide.
This will be my 25thcolumn and I never would have imagined that it would have morphed into what it has. I never thought I would be known as a writer or be approached to write books. I mean seriously, I was the kid who hated English class and still don’t really enjoy reading.I had to share that story with everyone simply because its blown my mind for the past few days. Maybe it’s all just one humongous coincidence and series of random events that I somehow constructed into a story. Maybe its all luck and chance, maybe you stumbled on this article randomly surfing the web.
Maybe nothing we do matters at all………but…….
what if everything does?