It feels like November

The meaning of Spartan life

Jacob Martin, Opinion Editor

It feels like November. Not necessarily in temperature or temperament of students, but I feel like I’ve been on campus for three months rather than three weeks.

I must admit, I feel old. I see the 1200-something freshmen running around, the embodiment of frantic anticipatory reverie in a daydream I once had. I see the sophomores with slightly more laid-back demeanors with their thirst for life and curiosity still intact. I see juniors living the college dream, not quite seniors ready to embark on the journey of life, but in possession of enough experience to be happily situated upperclassmen. I see seniors stratified: a third in a harried frenzy of worry about the future, a third with plans all set, a third under a spell of confused apathy.

I remember the carefree attitude I once had. Everything in college was planned for me, I knew my next step. As the years pass, that security passes too. In fact, the wise student realizes what he or she had wasn’t security at all, it was illusion.

I remember being a freshman. I can recall a number of memories in my dorm (Storrs), in classes with upperclassmen, the first “A” I received on a college paper and even the first time I saw my name in print under an article in this paper. I have a vivid recollection of many memories Case Western Reserve University has afforded me the luxury to make.

But the real world is an anarchic place ruled by chaos and disorder. Scientists call it entropy, philosophers call it human nature. Pick up any good piece of literature and this is inevitably a major motif. Character starts in world with some semblance of order; something causes disorder; character tries to restore order and either succeeds or fails; character is left in world despite efforts; futility tortures or fulfilment satisfies.

In “As I Lay Dying,” William Faulkner’s character Darl says, “How often have I lain beneath rain on a strange roof, thinking of home.” As I begin my final approach to graduation in May, I’ve found myself thinking a lot about home.

But where is home? And what is the purpose of nostalgia, what does it achieve?

Personally, I’ve never liked indulging in nostalgia. The etymology comes from the Greek nostos, “a return home,” and algos, “pain, suffering.” The word literally means homesickness and implies a longing for something in absentia. More simply, it always leaves me feeling empty.

I consider CWRU to be one of my homes. Lately though, CWRU doesn’t feel the way it used to: I feel like I’m lying beneath a solitary rain cloud that has opened up above the roof I’m lying on, only the roof is my own.

But maybe that’s the purpose of nostalgia, to remind us that things change. CWRU has changed since my arrival in 2010, and I have changed with it. I am not the same person I was as a freshman, yet I desire to hang on to the novelty and wonder of that previous time.

We become aware of memories like we become aware of a leaky faucet. When we’re constantly moving about making noise, we don’t hear the dripping. When we take a moment to bask in the solace of silence, the droplet of water becomes audible as it lands in the tiny puddle around the drain.

This is the essence of life, the passage of time. But the fact of the matter is not important. What’s important is how we spend that time.

On Hessler Street there are a couple of benches adorned with art. One of them has an unattributed Lewis Carroll quote written inside a heart: “Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end: then stop.” Each time I walk by that bench I smirk and chuckle at its absurdity. I think to myself, “Sure, you begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end. Naturally you stop at the end. What then?”

The end of my CWRU beginning appears nearer than May for me, and I have begun a search for a new one. However, change is not inherently bad, it’s merely inevitable. Until I find my new beginning to sustain this year, I may submit to silence and resolve to hear the ceaseless drip—drip—drip—drip….

“Though I know I’ll never lose affection for people and things that went before, I know I’ll often stop and think about them in my life.” —The Beatles