written by Alexander Payne & Jim Taylor, from the novel by Louis Begley
Warren Schmidt: (voice over) Dear Ndugu... you'll be glad to know that Jeannie's wedding came off without a hitch. Right now she and Randall are on their way to sunny Orlando on my nickel, of course. As for me, I'm headed back to Omaha. I'm driving straight through this time and I've made only one stop: the impressive new arch over the interstate at Kearney, Nebraska. An arch that commemorates the courage and the determination of the pioneers who crossed the state on their way west. You've really got to see it to believe it and it kind of got me thinking. Looking at all that history and reflecting on the achievements of people long ago kind of put things into perspective. My trip to Denver, for instance, is so insignificant, compared to the journeys that others have taken, the bravery that they've shown, the hardships they've endured. I know we're all pretty small in the big scheme of things and I suppose the most you can hope for is to make some kind of difference. But -- what kind of difference have I made? What in the world is better because of me? When I was out in Denver, I tried to do the right thing, tried to convince Jeannie she was making a big mistake, but I failed. Now she's married to that nincompoop and there's nothing I can do about it. I am weak. And I am a failure. There's just no getting around it. Relatively soon, I will die. Maybe in twenty years, maybe tomorrow. It doesn't matter. Once I am dead, and everyone who knew me dies too, it'll be as though I never even existed. What difference has my life made to anyone? None that I can think of. None at all. Hope things are fine with you. Yours truly, Warren Schmidt.
Thanks to Michael for a correction on the spelling of the city in Nebraska.
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