It’s all just a popularity contest.
But this is my last column. I should have started this earlier.
And I don’t just mean that I should have started writing this particular one sooner—although as it is after 4 a.m., maybe I should have—I mean that I should have applied for a column before senior year.
I admit that I have struggled with column topics. The creative process has generally included waiting until the last minute, staying up late at night and staring at a blank screen. I say a little prayer to the Judeo-Christian God that I have all but renounced, promise to save the whales and improve global recycling in return for lucidity and go to bed disappointed.
But I’ve fooled myself into thinking that people actually read what I write. No, no. You don’t have to. This is for me.
There are other things that I regret. I should have taken saxophone lessons. I should have gone to play basketball at the gym that one day that real basketball players showed up. I should have gotten involved in a club earlier.
Maybe the whole growing of the hair experiment sophomore year was a mistake. The piercing, however, was not.
But I am happy with my education. I have learned that I know very little. I’ve learned that other people are smarter, cleverer, more talented, more motivated, more insightful and more destined for success than I am. Many are even better looking. Almost everyone I know can grow better sideburns.
I’ve learned that more than one thing can be right. Life is full of pluralities. Meaning can be found when horizons are broadened. If a person does not agree with you, they could be just as right—or as wrong—as you are. They have thought about things differently. And that means something.
I’ve learned that everything does not happen for a reason. Sometimes things occur that have no higher meaning. S--- happens.
I have learned that Duke is not a place where you can dare to be different, despite all its talk about diversity. This is an environment where different people all want to become the same person. It just seems disingenuous.
And skin color is still an issue. Women are still not respected as equals. Homophobia is still rampant.
I’ve learned that group projects are useless. Have a few drinks with friends at a pub like the Joyce or the Down Under and start a serious conversation. Then you will get somewhere. That’s how the Greeks did it. That’s how the drama of the 16th and 17th centuries was written. That’s where modern philosophy and literary theory come from.
I’ve learned that laughter really is the best medicine (unless, as Norm McDonald has pointed out, you’re a diabetic. And then: insulin). For stress, for awkward situations, for a mild fever, for shingles, maybe even for hangovers, laugh. Laugh at life. Laugh with other people. Laugh at yourself.
I’ve learned that “wherefore” means “why.” Juliet is asking Romeo why he is Romeo, a Montesquieu. She is apparently unconcerned for his whereabouts.
I’ve learned that my girlfriend is always right. I’ve learned that burritos are great, chicken tikka is tasty and gnocchi with pesto can hit the spot, but there is nothing that can compare to the food in Buffalo. I’ve learned that you should never wash green sheets with your whites and that you should check to make sure there aren’t any crayons in random pockets when you put clothes in the dryer.
And I’ve learned that there is always room for improvement. I will not stop learning once I graduate. I will not stop looking for opportunities. I don’t want to miss out.
Just like the time I would have met Mr. T at the mall. The entire day, I kept saying, “I’ll go a little later, I’ll go a little later....” And when I got there, they told me he just left. And when I asked the mall guy if he’ll ever come back again, he said he didn’t know. Well, I’m never going to let something like that happen again! I’m going into space right now!
Eric Vivier is a Trinity senior. His column appears every other Friday.
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