I am a high-schooler, and an alum of Jefferson Middle School. I just completed my freshman year and celebrated with my colleagues on our ascent to sophomore year. I have always thought of the passage of school years in terms of foot racing, and I have contrasted their distance-run nature with that of a sprint. But this year something was different. At the end of this year, as I walked out the school doors and biked away, I didn’t feel the same as previous years. This year hadn’t been a race. There was no finish line to cross, no exuberant joy of achievement. It felt almost like the year had been too long.
It had, it had been too long. 180 days too long. Far too long for even the longest distance run. It had been a slow and grueling walk, sometimes it was even a crawl. The end of the year was the completion of my – of our – stroll through freshman year. I had expected a great milestone to greet us, to come to our view and exalt our glory, but none ever appeared. Why? Why do I feel no euphoria? Why don’t I feel like I’ve crossed a finish line? Where is my milestone?
But now I see it. Now I see it in every day of the year. Perhaps this is what the “real world” is. There’s no finish line feeling because the end was never the destination. No milestone because this isn’t any place worth noting. To us it feels impossible at times, but we’ve only completed what about everybody on Earth is able to complete: freshman year. And what have we found? I can tell you what I’ve found. I’ve found that the milestone was not at the end, but it’s grandeur was implanted in every one of the million pebbles I passed on my walk here. I can see it now. All the memories in every second of every day. Some friendships developed, some deteriorated. Some relationships were born, some died. Every day, every second we were breaking new ground, be it intellectually, interpersonally, or emotionally.
Our Rome was not built in a day. But there is a most important day: the first day. If you think about it, every day’s work requires the work of all the previous days. Therefore, the first day, which supports the most other days, is the most important. My finish line isn’t here because the end is the important part. There has never been a destination, it’s always been about beginning and going through this journey. The important things I’ve learned today can be summed up in these two quotes:
“Don’t worry that it won’t be perfect, just worry that it won’t be.”
–Company, by Stephen Sondheim
“Spirit is the journey, body is the bus, I am the driver from dust to dust.”
Have a great summer, all.