Yesterday I was driving around with my friends listening to happy songs. It was one of those few and far between moments where everything around you seems right, and your exact place in time and space seems to be perfectly orchestrated as if the universe in conspiring in just the right ways. It was like the one annoying puzzle piece that can’t seem to fit anywhere just slid into place without a problem. It felt satisfying. It felt rewarding, even though I didn’t do anything to deserve a reward.
Then, we somehow ended up talking about the terrible recent atrocities of the world. I wondered how a moment in time so perfect, in motion yet somehow so still, could suddenly become infected with this news. Really, I know that word may seem as though it doesn’t belong, but that moment was perfect, and then became infected. The universe had done so well, how could it let this happen? The puzzle was finally finished. Now it felt like my dog had knocked the whole damn puzzle off of the table and I had to start all over again.
I’d been thinking about the gift of an education and the ways it might shape me and give me something good. I mean something really, really good. Something that changes my life forever or suddenly lights the spark inside me that will only ignite when it’s found its purpose.
I thought this would happen fast. One day I would discover something I loved and the next day I’d be following a rose-lined path that I knew, that I trusted I was supposed to be on.
The thing I’m realizing is that my education hasn’t given this to me; and it probably never will. For some people, maybe it did. Maybe some students walk into their first Psych 101 class and know that this is what lights their soul on fire. This is what makes their brain turn inside out and back again. But my education has given me this strange desire, or ability, perhaps, to freeze moments like the happy car moments, to dissect them, to become aware of them, and to be grateful for them.
I am grateful for my professors, yes. And I am grateful that I like my political science classes. But I am most grateful for the moments I’ve experienced like the one aforementioned. When everything is simply, honestly right. Unclouded, visceral, and sparkling with some little fragment of the souls of everyone around. I feel, in these teeny windows of time, like a rainbow made of some color I just can’t quite identify. This hasn’t come from my classes or my test grades or my case studies. But this feeling is important to me. It is who I am and it is why I am. And it is a gift of my education.
I love this feeling. I love it like I do my parents, my favorite book, my first love, and Oreos and milk. I love it in different ways because it affects me in different ways. And even though it’s hard to accept this feeling has flown off again, I can be grateful once more that I understand why the feeling has escaped me, and what I’m going to do about it. This is yet another gift of my education.
When moments like this are corrupted, it is by something simple, but elusive nonetheless. In this day and age we forget about what has become the most audacious, bold, unifying force in this massive world. Kindness. We have forgotten entirely what it really means to just be kind and to consider the lives of others. We are all in this world together. And with all of these mindless atrocities that seem to be happening day after day, and the similarly mindless ways in which we decide to deal with them, we cannot forget that we are connected.
Whether we want to admit it or not, a good many of us have compassion buried inside of us somewhere. It is not weakness. It is not vulnerability to this harsh and fast paced world. It is a powerful, awe-inspiring compassion. It is this compassion that allows us to be truly free, and to connect with others. To experience moments with awareness and with consideration. All of these problems so prevalent today. Perhaps they just wouldn’t exist if we made an effort to be more compassionate, more understanding. This isn’t likely, but it isn’t necessarily unlikely.
We are connected. Just like the puzzle pieces. Awareness of this necessary, astounding, wondrous connection that intricately binds the human race is what my education has given me. I don’t know what I’m going to do with it yet, but I am going to follow this path. Slowly, tentatively, but purposefully. I don’t know much, but I know who I am. And I know that my education has shown me one thing. We are connected.