Thursday, February 25, 2010

Everything Matters!, by Ron Currie, Jr.

This week I read The Total Mom Makeover for the second time because the promise of this mom being "made over" is just too tempting to resist since it didn't work the first time around (and no, not that kind of makeover). Hannah Keeley, the author who has now told me how to have The Total Mom Makeover twice, says this: “I have spent many hours lying awake at night wondering how I would get the kids evacuated if a huge meteor ever struck the earth…Irrational? Of course it is. But that does not make the threats feel any less real.” The real possibility of a meteor obliterating mankind is exactly what Ron Currie, Jr. addresses in Everything Matters!. Read this novel and you’ll be contacting The Total Mom Makeover guru to ask if she’ll share her Meteor-Hitting-the-Earth-Evacuation-Plan when she writes her next book.

Everything Matters! is a story about Junior. A name so nondescript hints to the reader that this will be no ordinary book. Junior learns the date that the world is going to be destroyed by a meteor while in his mother’s womb. He lives his life with a “voice” that gives him vital information about his life, the lives of his loved ones, and the impending doom of the earth. This voice also provides inside information that helps him understand that he is not crazy; the world really is going to be blown to pieces when he is 36 years old. The government eventually realizes that the meteor is on its way and they use Junior to help them come up with a solution to the problem, which involves escaping Earth. When the problem of the meteor is announced, many people don’t believe it is going to happen. While dealing with a problem of this magnitude, Junior deals with an alcoholic mother, the cancer of his father, the mental disability of his baseball star brother, and the intense love he has for his one and only girlfriend, Amy.

I know, I know. You are thinking that this plot belongs on the science fiction channel and you want no part of it. Think again.

I liked this book. While the reading is not complicated, the issue it explores is important and profound. Currie contrasts the mundane with the ordinary to make the point of the novel; when death is impending, we still have to deal with everyday life. Everything does matter because our time is limited. The tendency in reading this book is to brush it off as fantasy, science fiction, or just a story that does not apply to us. But it is not really all that far removed from what every human being faces every single day. Each day and hour and minute we are closer to death. The only difference between Junior and us is that we don’t know the date or time. We know we are going to die. But do we believe it? Do we live like death is a sure thing? Do we live as if we are dying? In general, I think most of us live like we are going to live forever. Consider one of Junior's thoughts: “As I’m paying I wonder at how we cling so relentlessly to the little conventions like commerce, as though they can save us. What’s the point of tallying up the total expense of my avocados and twelve-grain bread, with the end just over a year away? The point, please, of this dutiful exchange of goods and currency? People all over the world are still giving their homes a fresh coat of paint and making weekly deposits into retirements accounts. Having babies at a record pace. God help us.” In Everything Matters! the people of the world know that the world is going to end, and yet they don’t act as if they believe it. The knowledge of the day they will die does not change the way they live.

I have similar knowledge. I know I am going to die one day. But do I live as I believe that? The book did not instill a spirit of fear, but it did help me to pause and reflect on just what is important in my life. Just how differently would I act if I knew my life would end in five years, in one year, in one day, or in the next hour? It is a sobering question to ask oneself. The question brought to mind this quote from Jonathan Edwards: “Resolved, never to do anything which I should be afraid to do if it were the last hour of my life.” May this thought affect change in the way I live my life, and may it affect change in yours as well.


  1. I suppose how one answers the question depends on what one thinks will happen when the last hour is done and life ends.

  2. How one answers the question also depends upon how one thinks the end will come and what will be the nature of that end. Painting my house one hour before a meteor hits and everything is obliterated is a bit foolish. But painting one's house one hour before he dies from a heart attack (as if we could have that knowledge!) is not insensible at all, given the right assumptions about life and death.

    That said, I'm still thinking about Edwards' resolution. I'm not sure what I would be afraid to do the last hour of my life, or why I would be afraid to do anything. It does not seem to be the proper question to me. I'll have to leave it at that.