It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way . . .
-Charles Dickens A Tale of Two Cities
Paper or Paradox?
Considering that I’ll be graduating with a degree in political science, I won’t miss the toilsome grunt work of drafting long-winded, seemingly interminable papers. It’s not that I particularly disdain writing; in fact, I enjoy writing very much as you can see. What I never quite grasped, however, was the paper writing paradox. First, the preliminary handicap of being conceptually limited by a straitjacket of guidelines and parameters is frustrating to say the least. And second, there’s the rank hypocrisy, which is the expectation to write—with utter ease—the most original dissertation. (After four years, I still can’t reconcile the two conflicting demands.) Consequently, I go by the saying, “Strive to be original, and when you can’t be original, steal from the best.” (I think Woody Allen said that in Loser, but I’d have to double-check.)
Say what you will of my simple philosophy, which does not in any way condone plagiarism, but it got me through undergrad, which is now becoming, more or less, the equivalent to a GED as far as some employers are concerned. Notwithstanding, I quote the preeminent English novelist Charles Dickens for the ostensible purpose of pretending to be cultured and versed in Victorian Era English lit.
What the Dickens?
Charles Dickens’s transcendent anaphora beautifully articulates in text what I fail to grapple in mind, and what I can only begin to make plain in heart. The rhythmic subtlety of Dickens’s prose masterfully conveys the ocean of thoughts, feelings, and emotions that have descended upon me in the wake and at the nexus of yet another closing chapter and forthcoming epoch. The highs and lows that I’ve experienced during my collegiate livelihood have now come to a head. And it’s at this delta that I must brave the uncharted waters that await me. But until my ship is set to sail, it’s best that I reflect upon the route I've traveled.
Looking back at my four glorious years at IU, I can’t say that I lived for the moment in every moment. Certainly, I’ve reveled in my fair share of fun, but always with a hint of moderation. There were times I forwent opportunities to stagger across
“Save in Understanding the Whole”
Sir Isaac Newton said it best in his Third Law of Motion: “To every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” Keeping in mind Dickens, what is clear is that the “season of Darkness” was always the driving force behind our appreciation for the “season of Light.” And it was during the “worst of times” that we learned to embrace the brevity and gravity of the “best of times.” We, as college students, know best.
The pretest anxiety and posttest alarm produced in us, a habitual obsession with grade calculation, and the burdensome group projects and demanding term papers forced many of us into confinement at libraries across campus. Nevertheless, no amount of work could ever forestall the unintended consequences (opposite reaction) that flowed directly from the laborious assignments and the time-consuming workload. The time spent hammering out twenty-page papers and surviving the weeks marked by consecutive test days made the nights out on the town evermore special and rewarding. For me, it was the academic element of college that helped me down those disgusting shots of no-name vodka and cheap tequila and that forced me to swallow that warm-ass cup of beer in beer pong. Why else would we play a game whereby water somehow acts as a cleansing antibacterial agent? And even if water was antibacterial, what the hell can water do about the filthy heads of hair that inevitably wind up inside the designated “water cup?" If the rigor of academia can’t reasonably explain our questionable and unsanitary motivations to play beer pong, I don’t know what else can. I'm open to any suggestions.
As of 4:45 PM (Thursday May 3, 2007), I’m officially an
As the twilight of my collegiate livelihood nears and as I prepare to enter the nine-to-five working world, I’ll be able to look back knowing that my experience at
It is my hope that the friends that stand at my side today will do so tomorrow. Realistically, my hope is nothing more than a pipe dream. As we say our goodbyes and as we pledge to stay in touch, the harsh reality suggests that many of us will do otherwise. For what other reason do we attend high school reunions? For what other reason do we revisit yearbooks? Now that I’ve graduated, it’s apparent that distancing indubitably lies ahead.
Etched in Stone
Pictures and memories reflect our futile insistence to relive and recapture the instants and moments forever locked away in time. Impossible is it to reopen the doors that are constantly closing behind us. Unfortunately, in life, there’s no key to unlock the past; missing is an inked quill to rewrite history. Like flowers, memories wither. In time, a rose once picked loses its fragrance and complexion. Prickly thorns and a wilted stem are all that remain. The same holds true for memories.
While we try our best to rekindle evanescent flames, efforts to resurrect relics from the past are misguided. Rather than trying to rouse times past, it’s incumbent that we look to hatch new memories to replace the decaying vestiges of time immemorial. To be frank, I’ll be the first to say that I’m going to miss this place dearly. Nothing will ever be able to replace our four years at IU—the apogee of our existence. All we can do now is hope and pray that our blessings remain bountiful for we know not what lies ahead. “Oh, the places we’ll go.”
"Don't Stop Believing" by Journey