Commencement approaches. Soon, I’ll zip up my black robe, march to my seat to “Pomp and Circumstance,” shake a few hands, shift the blue and white tassel from left to right, and embrace my family after the dragged-out ceremony. Tears will run down my face during all three hours of it.
Phew, still more to do to get there. My brain heaves from exhaustion. 10 hours on the weekends have become allotted to sleep just to keep myself going the rest of the week. I can’t do college anymore.
Luther is sneaky. It piles the work on us slowly. At the beginning of each semester, I’m stuck in the honeymoon stage, reveling in the fact that my classes are so cool, and that I’m going to learn so much.
Six weeks in, I have made a habit of downing six cups of coffee a day just to make it through three papers and two tests that week. Of course there was no way to get ahead; other papers and tests were due before this. A constant stream of urgent tasks forms an endless circle of crap to do.
By spring break, everyone on campus – faculty included – have turned into anxious typing, page-flipping zombies. Week by week, we operate robotically in order to make every deadline. As one of my professors explained, “we turn the urgent into the important.” Why did living in the cycle of stress become important? Or do we force ourselves into this nauseating cycle to reach the goal at the end? Our diplomas are in sight.
But the work wasn’t always important. It had to be done. It was urgent, not important.
What was important for you these last four years?
The important things often came from the late night conversations that my friends and I had that stretched on into 3 and 4 a.m. God, the universe, the economy, fairness, law were discussed. Sleep was optional. We were doing something important instead. We were on the verge of discovery, touching something ingrained into the fabric of existence.
These past four years, we carved pathways for discovery in and out of class. True discoveries are found for their own sakes. Money, fame and intellectual recognition stifle the individual’s capacity to be creative. That’s what makes discussion so valuable. We talk. Together, we link ideas together and dive deeper into the nature of reality. The best ideas come from attempting to imagine the other complexly. Without sticking on an easy “objective” answer, a solution is gained from the inside.
That’s what Luther has done for me. It taught me that in imagining greater, we can do greater. The first step is coming to terms with the best, most creative solution, by thinking and discussing it with people.
After Luther, the urgent tasks overshadow these aspirations.
The danger of living in the cycle of urgency is that the things that are fast approaching will always stop you from doing the things you determine important. Papers, expectations of jobs and weekends solely devoted to getting wasted are urgent. If the immediate is all you live for, then your life is determined by whim and the cycle of sameness.
The important and urgent overlap here, in the life of the individual. If this is your life, then it’s urgent and important that you determine exactly what you want out of life and to go for it. Only you can choose your relationships, your occupation and what you spend your money on.
You have come this far and your degree is inevitable, soon to be mailed and on its way your mailbox. So, what’s next for you? What are you going to do with this urgent and important life?