Richard Kim, Writer
Nearly all students have, at one point, complained about the difficulties of school or life in general. However, learning to see the good within the bad is an extraordinarily important life skill as a positive mindset can help one motivate themself through difficult times.
Robert Patano, who wrote about the Nova Effect in his book The Hidden Story of Every Person: & Other Short Stories, explains the Nova Effect through a short story. The story opens up with an introduction of the main character Eric.
Eric takes his dog, Nova, on a walk. Suddenly, a rabbit darts out from the bushes, and Eric loses his hold on the leash, allowing Nova to dash after the rabbit.
As Nova continues to get smaller on the horizon, Eric continues to yell, “Nova get back here” but Nova only continues to grow smaller, disappearing eventually. The rabbit later runs back into its burrow, leaving Nova completely alone and lost.
Eric is devastated as he has now lost his beloved pet; he wonders why that rabbit, at that exact moment, had to be there. Eric quickly begins searching for Nova’s whereabouts, asking loved ones to help and even going so far as to enlist the help of the police. However, a day passes by, then two days, then a week. The sense of dread in Eric only continues to grow as time passes by.
However, one morning, Eric is greeted by the familiar “ding-dong” of his doorbell and opens the door to a lady with Nova. Eric immediately welcomes back his furry friend, giving Nova a massive bear-hug. Eric thanks the lady and learns that her name is Vanessa. Eric and Vanessa hit it off and the two of them eventually fall in love.
As their relationship progresses, Vanessa invites Eric to have dinner with her parents. On the night of the dinner, Eric drives to her parents’ house in high spirits. But suddenly, Eric’s car is T-boned and he immediately passes out from the crash’s impact. Eric is very quickly rushed to the emergency room and he awakes to an unfamiliar face. Eric weakly asks, “Am I dead?” The doctor chuckles a little and replies, “Thankfully no, you got incredibly lucky and survived a nearly always-fatal accident.”
Eric quickly asks if he is fine. The doctor hesitantly replies, “No, as the accident was quite serious, we had to run a few scans on your brain. I have both good and bad news for you.” Eric, preparing himself for the worst, asks for the bad news.
“We have found a glioma in your brain.” Mistakenly thinking that the glioma was a result of the accident, Eric wonders why that truck, at that exact moment, had to be there. Eric, now feeling defeated, weakly asks what good news there was.
The doctor informs Eric that a glioma is a brain tumor that is almost always fatal if not discovered early on. But luckily, due to the doctors accidentally finding Eric’s glioma during a brain scan, the tumor could now be removed safely. The doctor reveals, “The accident saved your life.”
These words echo within Eric and he begins to feel lucky. Eric now thinks that it was a miracle that that rabbit had darted out in front of Eric and Nova, that Nova had chased the rabbit, that Vanessa found Nova, that Eric was driving to Vanessa’s parents’ house, and that he got into that accident because, otherwise, his glioma wouldn’t have been found.
Eric thinks to himself, “That rabbit saved my life” and realizes that moments are never “completely good” or “completely bad”.
Students just like Eric should keep in mind that it is impossible to interpret anything as entirely good or entirely bad. If someone solely focuses on the bad in a situation, they will only drag themself down, destroying any chance of hope. Conversely, when one is blessed with a good situation, they should never drop their defense entirely, as life can quickly take a turn for the worse.
Likewise, it is equally important to realize that good and bad events can spiral out of control and take control of one’s life. Hence, it is important to always be prepared for the worst. This means staying optimistic and practicing a growth mindset, reminding oneself that they will exit the event as more prepared than before and with more experience.
Another lesson to take away from the story of Eric is to remember that one good or bad moment is minuscule in the grand scheme of life. Hence, one should make sure to not dwell on their misfortunes and instead, continue to live out their lives and strive to undo and improve upon those misfortunes.
Eric’s story can also teach students that not everything in one’s life can be under their control— and that that’s okay. It is impossible to completely avoid losing one’s dog or getting into a car crash without limiting all other aspects of their life to be a hundred percent safe. Everyone takes risks in their everyday lives. Part of living means learning from the successes and misfortunes that these risks may bring.