Friday, May 28

You can get what you want or you can just get old

It's an odd part of my job to attend graduation exercises year after year, and today was no different. Commencement speakers come and go, and they all more or less say the same thing. Overcome difficulties, take time to build your life, follow your dreams, take your setbacks, keep going, make a difference in the world. In a way, it's nice to be reminded of all of these things, to hear yet again that my life didn't end at 22, it just began. We're all used to hearing that the four years of college are the best years of our lives -- Toni Morrison wasn't having any of that. It's not that our college years are so remarkable, or even so wonderful (all-nighters, petty jealousies, the agony of being 19, frat parties), it's that they are so wonderfully, gloriously selfish. For the most part, college marked the last period of freedom in our lives, when all you worried about was you -- educating yourself, making friends, dating, learning how to hold your liquor. After graduation, there was so much more to concern yourself with: All of sudden, you needed to save the world, get a job, hold a job, not disappoint your boss, not disappoint your family, take care of yourself, take care of your family, pay your students loans, exercise, eat right, floss, and walk the dog. There's no time to debate what constitutes a sonnet, or the intricacies of biblical history, because there's the commute, and then there's the work day, and the return commute, and making dinner, and eating dinner, and catching the Sox game, and somehow, you have to go the grocery store.

So, yes, I know that college wasn't the best years of my life. And it wasn't the worst years either. Because adult life isn't measured in years, it's measured in moments. That may be the hardest lesson of growing up: Learning that life takes time and effort and patience. There's no finish line anymore.

No comments: