Riding the Pine: With Joe Clyne '16 and Henry Arndt '16

by Henry Arndt and Joe Clyne | 1/27/16 7:30pm

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by Eliza McDonough / The Dartmouth

Four weeks into our penultimate term, there should be nothing that this campus has to offer us anymore. We’re seniors. It’s winter. We’ve done all there is to do and seen all there is to see. We’ve hiked the Fifty three times and crossed the Dartmouth X once. (Note to freshmen males: the grass is not always greener on the other side.) KDE is suspended now, and our final chance to get a coveted Derby invite has gone up in flames.

But when all the signs are pointing toward misery and despair, toward a jaded contempt of Dartmouth’s campus, your boys Hank and Fish simply can’t get enough. We are eternal optimists, too stupid to comprehend the negative omens in front of our very eyes. We’ve tasted the top for too long. With a mouth full of caviar, it’s hard for us even to imagine gruel.

For many, the stacks are a symbol of pathetic desperation, a destination to be avoided at all costs. To us, the stacks are a second home, our last quivering connection to the false idol of academia. Most seniors have long grown weary of the ritualistic monotony of pong. For us, the games are just beginning. The vast majority of campus has matured beyond the seductive pleasure of freshman year’s simple joys. And yet, our adolescent minds remain drunk on the seemingly routine boons of immaturity.

We’re swimming against the current and that has somehow only made us stronger. As the huddled masses retreat into their disparate corners of campus under the misguided belief that there’s no juice left to squeeze, we are out here on our hands and knees sucking each and every ounce of milk from Dartmouth’s teat, loving every drop more than the last. We recognize the folly in stepping away from the trough before we have had our fill.

Although these musings clearly merit campus-wide publication in their own right, our parochial editors have demanded that they possess some modicum of relevance to the sports section in which they nominally reside. Constrained by the impossible task of using sports to convey our idle thoughts, we ingeniously and strenuously crafted a metaphor that, though strained, is impugnable. Peyton Manning epitomizes the same mindset to which your noble columnists subscribe.

As Peyton grows older and his forehead grows larger, he has started to realize that this season may indeed be his last rodeo. For much of the season, we did not expect Manning to be in this position. We never dreamed that he would have enough gas in the tank to end an admittedly noble career with his second Super Bowl ring. In fact, we were hoping that he did not.

Somehow despite all his trials and tribulations, Manning stands ready to claim the ultimate crown once again, to defy the opposition and place himself on the mountaintop one final time. Even the naysayers like us have grown intoxicated by Manning’s unwillingness or inability to accept his own limitations. In a season marked by both glorious highs and shameful lows, Manning’s one consistency has been his ability to keep trudging forward, no matter the emotional humiliation and no matter the physical cost.

After leading the Broncos to a 7-0 start and setting the NFL record for career passing yards in the tenth week, Peyton seemed poised to close his career on a high note, statistically superior to all opposition. In the same game where Manning set the record, he suffered an injury that, when combined with his relative inefficiency, would serve to sideline him for all but the regular season’s final 23 minutes.

This same period saw the rise of the electric 6’8” behemoth Brock “The Rock” Osweiler. Calm, collected and handsome in the pocket, Brock commanded a series of late-season wins, including an OT thriller over the New England Patriots, that seemed destined to seal Peyton in amber as an historical relic.

However, despite tallying 17 interceptions during his abbreviated regular season (which was good for second most in the NFL), Peyton remained the Broncos’ ace in the hole. When they needed a savior, the Broncos ditched the young buck and turned back to “Ol’ Reliable.” Now, Manning’s wily tricks have elevated the Broncos from competency to transcendence, marked by their upset victory over the Patriots.

Despite the opposition of the critics, as the world closed in on him, Manning stuck with what worked. Manning could have retreated, but those who knew his character understood that he never would. Now, he stands a game from transcendence, one playoff performance from the pantheon. Routine has triumphed over the erotic pleasure of novelty and stands the chance to do so again.

If you simple-minded readers are still struggling to grasp the inherent meaning of this complex analogy, we are Dartmouth’s equivalent of Peyton Manning. Obviously and easily the most successful columnists and students of a generation, we still somehow seem to find ourselves neglected by those who arrogantly consider themselves our equals. Somehow, we are the only ones who recognize the simple pleasures in the habits we nearly all take as givens. Only we can find apotheosis in the activities many students regard as merely habitual.

Therefore, we hope to leave you with a closing mantra, a message to cling to in the silence of your hearts. You can’t take anything for granted. There is no such thing as quotidian joy.