Clarity in the Chaos
8:41 p.m.: The exact time I received the blitz about writing this very column. I was in the middle of a weekly standing hangout (read: harbor) date with my freshman floormates. These were the people whom I met when I owned zero pairs of closed shoes (save for my sneakers) and didn’t know what double spacing meant. I had never seen snow before, and sure as hell didn’t understand Fahrenheit.
So naturally, panic ensued. Surrounded by the people with whom I had grown so much, I suddenly found myself facing what would be one of the very lasts of the lasts — somehow summarizing these past four years into an 800-word piece.
You see, I am a chronic documenter. Words, pictures, letters: I collect them all. I have journaled my years here, and as of press time, I have 4,253 photos uploaded to Facebook from 11F-15S. Math has never been my forte, but a calculator tells me that’s roughly three pictures a day. If you sent me a vaguely amusing Snapchat, I probably have it saved. And my laptops desktop is overflowing with hundreds of random screenshots.
I enjoyed this way to dip back into specific times here at Dartmouth — it provided me with a sense of order. But returning to these neatly compartmentalized memory banks didn’t necessarily elicit the emotions I’d expected. Many of these supposed unforgettable memories seemed to blur together. Smiling faces and selfies, frat basements and mountaintops. They painted a pretty picture, but they didn’t always feel like lived moments.
Way back in 2003, John Mayer sang in his song “Clarity,” “By the time I recognize this moment, this moment will be gone.”
And while initially jarring and potentially upsetting to a hypersensitive senior like me, I realized how much this rang true. As an overeager freshman paddling down the Connecticut on my trip and introducing myself to everyone and their roommate on Rauner-Bildner 3, the four years I had ahead of me seemed like an eternity.
When I got the blitz at 8:41 p.m., I realized that my eternity was ending. The four years that I felt like were never going to end were coming to a close. The “2011 - Expected June 2015” on my resume was becoming a reality.
As much as we don’t like to admit it, our time here is fleeting.
When the lock on my door decided to break earlier this week, the FO&M staff member asked me a question as he battled with my stubborn keyhole. “Have you ever thought about the number of people that have lived in this very room?” And while I failed to see the bigger picture and sassily responded “seven, because this building is only seven years old,” I later realized the weight of what he had said.
Soon, Class of 2015, we will be gone. Always tied to each other as ’15s, sure — but we will be dispersed nonetheless, across the country, across the globe. Brand new, equally eager faces will be jumping in the frigid river far too early in the spring, and other people will be around to complain about the heaters at the end of May. They will be living their own moments here at Dartmouth, just as we have lived ours.
The times I’ve been happiest at Dartmouth have been when I immersed myself in whatever and whoever was around, when I found myself taking everything in and not just through the lens of my iPhone camera. Moments like these, both profound and seemingly insignificant, are the ones that have come to define my time here.
It was also the spontaneous times and the things that pushed me far beyond my comfort zone that stick in my head. I may not have documented them, but these moments have had a far deeper impact on me than just pictures or words could ever show. These moments challenged me and made me a better version of myself than when I first pulled up to the Hop on the Dartmouth Coach all by myself on that rainy September evening in 2011.
So don’t get caught up in crossing things off a bucket list (which, in my probably unpopular opinion, is nothing more than just a pressure-filled to-do list). Turn your phone on airplane mode once in a while to get away from it all. (I promise, your organizations will continue to function without you.) Make eye contact with your dinner mates at FoCo instead of people-watching over their shoulders.
Our time here is ephemeral. So be present and be purposeful. When the time comes to walk across the stage, smile through the tears. Hold the people and the moments you’ve had close to your heart. And always remember that while it might be time to face the postgrad life, the time has also come to finally take on the highly coveted position of #sketchyalum.