Disclaimer: this post is a tad wee (I am also British today, it seems) sentimental, but there is nothing wrong with a bit of sentimentality every now and again.
The Gmail “Archive” feature is pretty close to amazing. Thanks to it, today I came upon a email letter I sent to seniors from the Class of 2008 as they were graduating June of that (fateful) year. Having originally entered college in that class, I then took a year off, so I was stuck in the odd/bittersweet/eye-opening position of watching them leave as I stayed. Re-reading it after two-years and finding that the majority of my wishes to them, to us, has remained the same, was oddly and happily reassuring. 🙂 Here is the opening portion, which still struck me as an entirely accurate representation of how I feel.
My [allow me the use of this possessive pronoun] dear seniors:
Soon, we will all be leaving for the summer, but some of you are leaving, as my 13-year old ghetto self would say, “fo real.” And it has got me thinking, which is dangerous when you are a bit tired and had only a fraction of functional neural pathways to begin with…
If we’re to look at everything as a fraction of time in a long chain of events that eventually add up to a sequence and, ultimately, a result, then even the single, smallest deviation can lead us to a drastically different end. Partly because, as a physicist’s daughter I’ve always had a fascination with, among other things, Richard Feynman and chaos theory…and partly because of Ashton Kutcher’s Oscar-worthy performance (not) in the movie bearing its title, this kind of reasoning about the so-called “butterfly effect” has often driven me to think about my parents – who met at random in a movie-ticket line – or decisions my grandparents took during WWII, or lucky yes’s and no’s I’ve taken along the way, and try to map out what my alternate present would be like if those things had been tweaked along the way. In a very Borges kind of way, I’d be interesting to see that garden he writes about where every path separates and all the infinite possibilities of one’s life are happening simultaneously.
I’ve thought about this recently because I’m caught in a wonderful moment of observing people I’ve known for years, or months, or even weeks – you all – fulfilling the dreams I heard you talk about behind a school desk, at a sleep over, over tea, during caffeinated freshman-year all-nighters. At each stage of my twenty-two young years I’ve been lucky enough to meet incredible individuals, and to watch so many of them presently take flight makes me so deliriously happy that it’s almost too clichéd to admit. Luckily, the oxymoronically predictable uncertainty of chaos theory has led most of you to pursue your dreams, adjusting them as time or opportunity saw fit, but steadfastly walking in that direction anyway. Bankers, lawyers, Olympians, philanthropists, pastry chefs, mothers – it matters little that we all shared a similar point of origin or intersection, because now we’re spread out all over the world and headed in all sorts of directions.
I have a friend who recently got out of the Israeli army, one who is married to a priest and just gave birth to her second daughter, and another who is touring with a band in Spain. At the same time, I know people who are in graduate schools, pursuing PhDs, selling their souls for banking jobs, writing books. In the tiniest moment of daily daydreaming, I can think of goals that are being achieved and decisions that are being taken, of passions that are being realized and ordinary paths that have been tossed overboard in favor of unconventional ones. And that, according to Frost at least, will hopefully make all the difference. It occurs to me that this is what we are for each other: a person we meet at a crossroads, before each has to move on, hopefully blessed and enriched by the other. And as long as we’re still holding on to each other – through distance, through time – I couldn’t be happier.