Regan: Another Day at Dartmouth
If you don’t stop and do something different, you could miss out.
You are late and tired. Walk faster anyway. Sit down. Listen. Take notes. Depart and repeat at another desk. Classes are over. The bell tolls. How many times have you heard the peals today? How many times have you listened? Go eat. I hope you ate already, as it is past noon. Maybe eat with a friend, maybe go on a date. You probably won’t go on a date because, statistically speaking, it is unlikely. People eat with friends more frequently than they eat with strangers or acquaintances.
If you walked up to a table at ’53 Commons ringed with people you vaguely recognized from seeing them at some distance somewhere or other on campus, and you sat down, there would be considerable discomfort. Travel back in time. The table is surrounded by complete strangers to you. The people who would have been uncomfortable are scattered across the country and world. Come back to 2018. No need to break your routine if it is working for you. Stop, though, look around and don’t miss the chance to do something different. In the words of Hunter S. Thompson, “Buy the ticket, take the ride.”
We are meeting in the rubble of the fourth wall and you are reading the result of occasionally defenestrating proper grammar in favor of effect. In “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” Ferris engaged audiences in the rubble of the fourth wall, too, and what this movie achieves is what a good opinion column should also achieve: engagement, wit, surprise! and some spirited message that isn’t as tired as you are of early morning drill the second time you have to wake up for it.
Many people enjoy Dartmouth by engaging with what they like to do and who they like to do it with — the rest becomes a question of location. I recommend that you find a way to do this without guillotining other possibilities. There is more to be extracted from what is usually done than most usually do. Luckily, in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” tasting the pith of each moment is Ferris’ modus operandi.
Ferris achieves success again and again by cobbling together more pizzazz from the same amount of stale perfection he and all his fellow suburbanites are apportioned in their nice neighborhood with nice cars driven by nice people. Success for Ferris is a good time that he creates himself. Notably for a teen movie made in the 80’s, Ferris Bueller’s “good time” is created by a passion for life unbridled by anything more illicit than skipping school. The day he has and the spirit he does it in is utterly captivating. Absurd situations, small and large, are created and enjoyed by a young man with an odd name in a leopard print vest who appreciates the possibility of difference as a joyride. He crashes a parade by performing in it, declares himself the Sausage King of Chicago to sneak into a restaurant and speaks to the audience gleefully and seriously about his take on his time, here, with you and the world. The famous words are, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Ferris is a person who dares to be different without having set out to be. Entertainment and pleasure are not what Ferris seeks, but what he creates by modifying and incorporating whatever material he is given into a story he lives.
The pace of Dartmouth is mercilessly quick. Doing something different is not only inconvenient, but time-consuming. Going to the river or nipping off to Big KAF eats up time. When midterms loom and assignments beckon, eating up gobs of time with fun seems frivolous. But wait! You do not need to go somewhere different to do something different or be someone different. In the words of Lawrence Durrell, “Travel can be one of the most rewarding forms of introspection.” You are time traveling one second per second every second of every day of your life. Start investing those seconds in yourself without losing yourself to your schedule. You cannot get anything back when it is gone, but you can get more out of what is coming. The value of introspection and reflection is realized in practice.
Widen the scope of your engagement with Dartmouth. There is everything to gain and the same amount of time to lose as there was yesterday, just as there will be tomorrow. Take advantage of a place whose depth and breadth is a combination of the institution and the people. Engage with both.