So, someone smashed out my car window last night. They didn’t take anything, there wasn’t anything to take in there anyway, other than I guess my peace of mind. The car runs fine, the window is going to get fixed, and really the only lasting damage will be to my wallet. I did tape up the window with plastic wrap in an attempt to do some DIY repairs to the car, but that all but dissolved while driving on the highway.

I have no idea who smashed the window. I probably never will. Hopefully they found what they were looking for, but it would have been nice if they didn’t have to rummage through my car in the process. Am I angry at them? A little. It’s more a frustration than an anger. A frustration that has led me to think about, of course, the meaning of life.

Time for the greatest abrupt gear shift in recent memory:

Nihilism is, in short, the belief that life is meaningless. We are born, we live, and we die, and that’s it. There’s no reason that we’re living, we have no purpose, we have no obligations, we have nothing but ourselves and ourselves are all that matter. It’s like YOLO mixed with a night of drinking alone at a dive bar in your home town on Thanksgiving.

Having done little to no research on nihilism (in fact, the only research that I’ve done was googling how to spell nihilism), but on face value, I hate it. Does life have a greater absolute meaning? A all encompassing purpose? I don’t know, no one really does. But we definitely have day to day purposes and day to day obligations! We have an obligation to be kind to the people around us. We have an obligation to try and do some good in the world, even if that’s just a smile to a passing face or picking up a piece of trash on the ground. And most importantly, we have an obligation to care about others.

Was the person who smashed my window a nihilist? I don’t know if the person who smashed my window was even a person. They could have been the chupacabra for all I know. But it makes me said that the circumstances of their life have led them to not be able to fulfill their societal obligation. I realize that I do not know what they are going through in life, but it’s depressing that anyone would have to resort to rummaging through cars to find what they need. Hopefully, they found what they needed without causing any more pain.

Another reason I was thinking about nihilism is because, when something like this happens, it seems like nothing that you do does matter. I parked within the lines, I didn’t nick anyones fender while parking, I followed all the rules (a speed limit is not a rule, it’s a guideline), and this is what I get: a broken window and a slightly shaken state of mind. Does what I do matter, if, no matter what, I could still end up with a broken window?

Yes. What I do does matter. How I treat other people matters. Whether or not I am a positive in someone else’s life matters. Helping people when I have the opportunity to matters. No one can know if there is a grand meaning of life, but that doesn’t mean that nothing matters. To quote my high school psychology teacher:

You matter.


Dan O'Keefe

Dan O'Keefe is the head chef at 21 in New York City. He has never cooked before in his life. You can find him on Twitter @danokeefe86 or on Instagram @dlraar

1 Comment

Aunt Kate · May 8, 2021 at 5:15 PM

Sorry about your window. It is a violation, and feeling violated feels pretty rotten. Your teacher was right, though, you do matter. I appreciate your efforts to gain some perspective, and your empathy for the window smasher. Keep keeping on the sunny side, Dan, always in the sunny side.

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