Changes were afoot. September became October. There was a sudden chill in the air.
It was the Monday after the weekend where all the leaves abruptly changed color so, naturally, people were strolling around campus commenting on how all the leaves had abruptly changed color. "How wild," they said, "that the leaves changed color so abruptly. I swear just yesterday it was summer!"
It was wild. It was also gorgeous. It was a moment where even the predictability of its happening couldn’t upstage the beauty of it all. Nobody, at least to my knowledge, walked around campus, looking cross, saying, "Once again the leaves have abruptly changed color. Who cares? They do that every year." No. Nobody was so grumpy—at least about that.
Instead, everyone was thankful to be a witness as every tree in the valley seemed to be lit aflame.
That same day, my professor entered class looking crestfallen. She sat down. Yes, changes were afoot. Outside, but also in U.S. politics. October meant the coming of autumn. It also meant a vote that would prove to be one of the most divisive political moments in the last decade. A vote that would decide the fate of a supreme court nominee.
My professor addressed the situation. She took on the subject, expressed her opinion candidly, passionately. She gave a speech of energy and desperation and sincerity and finished with a plea—to us, her students—that I wish to share with you:
"Take on the world with the right energies."
It’s a simple idea. Not entirely novel. But an idea worth repeating; a call to action worth reminding oneself about: As college students, as people, we are simply a bundle of energies—untapped potential. It is up to us to put those energies to good use. To be kind. To be empathetic. To be excited about the world.
Also worth reminding oneself: it is out of these divisive moments that people become motivated to use their energies for change.
I found myself thinking about those words a lot lately. They followed me out of class, down to soccer practice, into the Caf and, by and large, everywhere I went for the better part of the semester. Taking this time to ruminate on something worthy is too often not the norm for me. Sometimes, after an interesting lecture, I’ll think: “Wow was that a cool thing Prof said about climate change” or after a stellar Math in Our World class I remember thinking, “Brilliant, now I can do my taxes.” But sooner or later, there are urgent distractions—often of far less importance—to concern myself with and I’ll suddenly go from thinking about that worthy something to laundry and my declining dining dollars. Such is life.
Not this time, though. This time was different. This time I postponed my laundry (yikes) to think about what my Prof had said, to think about my energies, to think about the future.
For me, as a senior, this semester has meant a lot of "lasts." My last time moving in, my last dorm room, my last time registering for classes, my last game as a college athlete, my senior paper. And there has been something about the impending conclusion to my time here at Luther College that made my professor's speech worth considering; made reflection necessary and contemplation about the future all the more exciting.
What energies have I brought these last four years? On what days were those energies good ones? On what days were those energies bad? What could I have done to make good energies, healthy energies, more frequent? To suppress bad energies, unhealthy ones? These were questions I asked myself and, I think, would be good for all those graduating in 2019 to ask themselves as they enter spring semester and onward. Because, for us, another big change looms in the not-so-far-off distance: the change from college to the fabled “real world.”
Wouldn’t it be great in these coming months, the denouement of our college careers, if the class of 2019 might do all we could to bring ourselves joy, to bring joy to those around us, to harness those good energies and dispel the bad—to the best of our ability. Wouldn’t it be great if everyone did that.
It’s a bit of a grassroots idea, I know, but a worthy one. And I hope it will provoke some thought for you, the way it did for me.
Because now, despite not knowing what is next for me post-Luther, I have something of a goal to work toward each day: "Take on the world with the right energies."