It didn’t really hit me until I woke up three days ago. Seeing May 1st on my phone made me remember that within the month I will be graduating, that my time on the hill is nearly at an end. I knew I had very little time left, but suddenly that amount was measured in weeks and days, not months.
I’ve had many “lasts” in the past few months. My last concert with The Chai Notes, my last return to campus as a student, my last prelim. Today (yesterday at this point), I taught my last recitation as a Java TA. Soon I’ll have my last class, and not long after my last final. As each one passed, I couldn’t help but think about the corresponding “first”, the event that began the series I was now ending. Each and every one has been extremely bittersweet in remembrance. When I began as a singer, a TA, a student, and every other role I took on during my four years here, I couldn’t possibly have known how important they would become. I can only appreciate in retrospect how much I loved every bit of my time, and how sad I am to see it end.
In an attempt to bottle these memories, I’m going to spend the next month reflecting on what I’ve learned over the last four years. Perhaps now I can make good on the topics I promised to cover way back when I started this blog. More importantly, I hope that you can glean something of use, or at minimum savor a little bit of the warmth of reliving happy memories.
The funny and sad part in this reflection is that so many of my most important decisions in college began as accidents. I first saw The Chai Notes at the first shabbat dinner of my freshman year, which I attended on a whim. I initially wanted to be a Matlab TA, but they weren’t taking applications in the spring so I ended up being a Java TA. I had planned on living on west campus my sophomore year, but I and most of my floor didn’t get a good time slot so I pleaded my way into the CJL annex. Despite the randomness of these three decisions, all played a central role in my college experience. I feel so lucky to have have lived the amazing past four years, given how little planning went into it all.
But on the other hand, maybe that’s always how it goes. The morning of the most important day of your life is like any other morning. You can’t possibly know that your life will change at approximately 8:15PM when the performing group sings Nachamu. Moreover, even at the time it’s impossible to tell. Most life events aren’t so impactful and sudden that you know right in that instant that you are now heading down a different path. You can only trace back where it all changed, for better or worse, in retrospect.
The takeaway here, for college and for life beyond, is that you should simply try everything you have any desire to do. I stood alone outside of 104West that Friday night worrying that it would be awkward not knowing anyone. I decided to go in because I might meet my best friends there, and I couldn’t pass up the chance. I had no way of knowing then, but I was exactly right. Every time you get that little thought of “this could be amazing”, opposed by the little nagging doubts about practicality, perceived coolness, and required effort, I urge you to just give that new endeavor a shot. So long as you keep your whits about you and stay attentive, you can always bail if it turns out not to your liking. But if you never try, you’ll never know what you’re missing. I truly believe that a life lived fully is a life lived well.
College is only four (plus/minus) years. There’s really no time to waste being timid, in worrying and delaying. So go boldly forward where you have not gone before. Spend these years forging new paths and trying new things. Some things won’t work out, and that’s ok, but the things that do will so profoundly affect you that you won’t understand who you were before.
When I look back, those are the things that I remember. Those happy accidents that I only achieved because I took a risk, chose the mystery option. They are quirks of fate that I can only appreciate now that my time at Cornell is ending. But in placing such importance on chance, I have to wonder,
What will tomorrow bring?