(picture from replayphotos.com)
I wrote this while waiting to attend the first meeting of an English club I had joined. It was scrawled out on a few pieces of notebook paper while sitting on a bench in the campus yard. Instead of editing it and changing its message, I decided to keep this one in its pure form. I hope you enjoy!
I was standing in the courtyard, at the point where you can see all the way from the Admissions building to the Old Cafeteria Building, and the long pathways in between where students walk to commit to their education. The walkways are littered with tree bark and crisp leaves that gave way at the first breath of fall. That breath, I believe, came today, for it is unusually cool and the breeze is blowing my hair back as I write this. It is a pleasant spot, perhaps the best spot on the campus. The trees crisscross eachother creating a pattern of sunlight and shadow on the grass. There is even a splotchy pattern on the cupola, which looks like it was resurrected from a Greek world. Even the buildings behind it look colonially Southern with their tiled triangle roofs and red brick that burns in the same sunlight that gave the breath to fall. And just like the cupola is by itself and the buildings are each their own style and feel, and the leaves each have a distinct crumble, and the bark is broken into different sized shards–so am I and you. So are all the people here. We are all hewn of blocks of this place, all molded by focus toward the cupola.
But even with our similarities we are a body of strangers.
We acknowledge each other, when needed, but then bury our minds on Facebook and pray that someone material sees us, but hope that they won’t. We look into eachother’s eyes and deny any connection, even though we are all human. We crave friends and other souls to share our status with, but we back away from what is too close, too vulnerable. Maybe we are the first ones to lie bleeding and refuse help. Maybe we are too proud to let another sit at the end of our bench and not feel crowded. Maybe we are the first to be isolated only because our minds tell us we are.
Because we must face the fact that they tell us to live within ourselves. They tell us to kiss the leaves on the walkways and respect the ants in their journeys to find bagel crumbs and the squirrels that perch on the trashcans. They say that we will find ourselves within ourselves. To admit to loneliness or to hope outside of who you are just means you don’t understand–after all, cannot your heart alone save you?
Maybe even to know someone deeply, to love them is to give away that part that will save you. But somehow, to lose that part is the only way to see that this place is not pathways that lead to neverland and people who will fade from memory after graduation. This is more than a gateway toward the afterlife of college–reincarnation into hopefully, a mature thinker who pays his bills, raises several kids, and lives respectfully, according to the ever-changing rules they give us.
Save yourself. Keep yourself. Know yourself, they say. But what if they are not the authors of life like we thought. What if they were once clueless, broken, and imperfect as us. What if they came to the wrong conclusions? If their advice did not come so naturally, maybe we would reject it more. But as with many others, I love mirrors and their message is music to my deaf ears.
But what if they are wrong? What if it is knowing another that gives dignity to the breath of fall? What if it is giving away the piece they say never to relinquish–to find the message in this senseless group of broken souls and dying architecture? Maybe they were wrong when they said that being saved comes through the bold moments when you proclaim yourself as conqueror and strangers become Twitter followers.
They were wrong.
I see it in the bark and dreamy faces. I feel it surging in my soul on this porch, at supper time in September. There is more than they told us, more than I told myself. And maybe to find it, I have to lose the things they told me to keep.
Maybe it is more like this: “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Matthew 16.25.