I'm currently in LaGuardia airport in New York Citaaaaay waiting for my flight to Indianapolis to be called so I can head off to the Au Sable institute (driving to Michigan) to study field biology for a month. I've been chatting to the people around me--a dance company off to St. Paul for a week. They're connecting in Indy to a Chicago flight to do street performances for a few weeks. Airports are strange. At once you are nowhere, with a group of fellow (albeit anonymous) travelers, and yet you could be anywhere--prepared to travel to wherever you want "There" to be. There is a remarkable sense of freedom written into a terminal--the promise of "everywhere."
Yesterday was graduation. For upwards of 300 seniors, it marked entry into that oft-spoken of "real world." Because I was around for Residence Life duties (check-outs, cleaning the residence hall, etc.) I was asked by visitors and other campus drifters my plans for next year. "I don't have to know yet," I say. Because even next year, I don't have to know. As in the airport, I could be nowhere. Or I could be everywhere. Now, or when I graduate, or twenty years in the future.
It's been a good, hard, trying, challenging and amazing year, as most are bound to be if you were to make a list of their landmarks. And it would be easy to see getting on an airplane as an escape, to force myself into something New. But there's been an equipping this year, so that I am prepared to embark on my first-ever domestic flight and my first-ever time flying on my own. I imagine that's the gist of any commencement address and the goal of any speaker--to let graduates know that they have been PREPARED. It's the goal of any beginning, too--so that freshman and senior alike can feel safe up in the turbulent air that is any new experience.
As a variation on Southwest airline's slogan goes-you are now free to move...everywhere.
Peace this season, and godspeed.
Posted by Nicole on Sunday, May 16, 2010
Posted by Nicole on Monday, May 3, 2010
Phototaxis is the biological term used to describe the movement of an entire organism to move toward the stimulus of light. I saw evidence of this on Saturday when I went for a hike with my family and dear roommate at nearby World's End, a beautiful set of islands connected by a natural bridge. Trees all over the area had branches pointed upwards, toward the sun and whatever nutrients could be gained from being those few inches closer to the center of our solar system. From a distance we watched the sun set over Boston, only to find out later that a water main had broken and made all the water undrinkable. That didn't matter to us, though, and the sunlight glimmered on the water despite whatever toxins might have been coursing through the city. People seem to function by phototaxis as well--my brother's college was nearby at an ultimate frisbee competition on Saturday. Strange cheers and tie-dyed shirts were all part of the team persona, and though they didn't win there was a charging positivity--the good weather was welcome.
This weekend had more than its share of reunions, which also serve as sources of joy. Those who spent the last year in Oxford came back after being delayed a week by the unpronounceable Icelandic volcano, and my best friend Hannah arrived after a year spent in San Francisco and Costa Rica. It's always a bit frightening to reconnect with people after such transformative and definitive experiences, but I've been blessed to have friends who are intentional about deepening relationships, even when a year abroad has separated us.
Finals begin this Friday--wish me luck!