When I was in law school, there was a student that basically everyone knew. Adam was outgoing, funny and easy to like. He always wore sunglasses and he was one of those guys who could pull it off. If I wear sunglasses all the time, it just looks like I forgot to take them off. Adam was cool.
And something shocking happened. Halfway through our second year he took his own life. And no one saw it coming.
I wouldn’t have called him a friend. We chatted in the halls among a group of classmates from time to time, but never one on one. But I knew him. We all did. But we didn’t know he was Jewish. We received notice that a service was to be held in his temple. So a group of friends and I were sitting around the table discussing whether we should go. And Tom was with us.
Tom always has a slight smile on his face, like there’s something making him happy that we don’t know about. And Tom keeps things simple. He was an average student in law school. While our goal was to graduate in the top five, or top fifteen, or whatever, Tom’s goal was to graduate. I get the impression that Tom enjoys the moments that he is in, while everyone else runs around trying to figure out what they are going to do in the moments still coming. Tom is a good guy.
So there we were going around and around. “We didn’t know Adam that well.” “I’m not even sure I’m allowed to go into the temple, I’m not Jewish.” “Do we bring anything?” “What kind of card do we get?” “I wonder if he would have wanted us to go.” Listening to us Lutherans and Catholics sitting around, you would have thought Adam was an alien.
And then Tom… “When a classmate dies you go to his service. You just go.” And then he walked away.
Here we were mustering up all the intellectual capacity we could find, and Tom nails us with the simplest of statements. A statement that arose not from his mind, but from his values. Values with roots running so deep that you don’t think them over. They just guide you.
I’m going to spend some time being like Tom. I’m going to take a quick and simple look at my decisions today and run them through the simplest of filters: My values. Without over thinking. Without analyzing.
“You just go.”