Yet again, we are freshmen. The tiresome process of finding our classes, making sure our backpacks don’t snap from carrying around Aristotle and Tocqueville, and navigating our schedules to involve ourselves in the community all take a toll.
That being said, I’m struck at the willingness of the University of Dallas community to help anyone, no matter the reason. Chances are, someone will help if you simply ask for it. Let’s keep this in mind as we determine our majors, club interests and what food to avoid at all costs, and as we’re listening to general college guidance.
UD allows us to pursue our intellectual interests, even if we want to switch our major four times freshman year. Let’s take what we do seriously, but avoid taking ourselves too seriously. This distinction will release loads of stress as we realize we are not the center of the universe, because all of us are share our struggles in one way or another. This common conflict binds us together; our journey to truth and beauty is not one we fight alone. Half of our battle is deciding what to care about and subsequently how to behave.
As we read in Plato’s Apology, Socrates proclaims “as long as I draw breath and am able, I shall never cease to practice philosophy.” His tremendous dedication to the pursuit of wisdom, truth and virtue is admirable and should be modeled after if we claim we value things that matter.
However, the university will never force these pursuits on us. It is here to guide us, to show us the many paths and challenge conventional wisdom, but we must ultimately choose our paths on our own.
Practising intellectual humility is especially difficult for bright students such as ourselves, but realizing our professors and certain classmates are simply more knowledgeable than we are should not act as a deterrent but as a call to master our studies. We are to question everything, understand why we think the way we do, and become someone we thought never possible.
If we never question our culture’s value system, our lives will be combinations of mediocrity and pathetic attempts to grapple with meaning. We cannot afford to be pure theorists. To practice virtue with our knowledge of what it is contributes to an extraordinary life.
“But for now, we are young, Let us lay in the sun, And count every beautiful thing we can see.” This Neutral Milk Hotel lyric from Andrew Esherick’s memorial bench outside the Cap Bar deserves some recognition and thought as we trek to class. Academic studies, books, labs and monotonous lectures are not the be all end all of our lives.
Do not simply “take time” to relax outside of class, but become completely absorbed in whatever it is you are doing, even if it’s getting a Cap Bar drink or relaxing in your hammock.Willa Cather says that happiness is “to be dissolved into something complete and great.” Discover greatness and beauty in the world.
Upon speaking to UD graduates, I’ve learned that their time spent here has truly been the best experience of their lives. I for one hope I do not peak in college, but you get the point.
I hope this unique school will forever be engrained in my soul, and hopefully, we can all feel as Stevie Wonder felt singing “For Once In My Life” — “For once, unafraid, I can go where life leads me, and somehow I know I’ll be strong … For once, I have something I know won’t desert me.”