I find it important to frequently contemplate how things could have gone. I don’t believe there are any rules set in place governing how things ought to be. Fate just isn’t my cup of tea.
Rather, I trace my St. Norbert experience to a few defining moments, forks in the road where I felt particularly and spontaneously courageous. Those curious moments have defined my story.
The ‘me’ of four years ago may well have been horrified by the long-haired, self-conscious analyzer-of-life I am today. He may have preferred the homophobic, unreflective little rut he lounged about in. That guy’s religion was ESPN and Fleischmann’s. Funny how that guy also made me.
I’m convinced that if we find ourselves uncomfortable long enough, or simply bored long enough, change will follow. In this sense, unhappiness can breed positive transformation. The task, then, of a college education is to challenge our notions of happiness, to point a very direct finger at this or that satisfaction so as to reevaluate it.
Martin Heidegger coined a powerful little term, loosely translated as ‘thrownness,’ which describes the manner in which one is plopped into existence. No doctrine says we had to have existed. There is no almighty blueprint prescribing the tremendous privilege of white skin to one life while withholding it from another. We are not necessarily deserving of life, but here we are.
If this is the case, constant reevaluation of our own beliefs must take precedence above all else. For what is the likelihood that the little conservative family we grew up in is right on all accounts? How probable can it be that we entered this world with the correct beliefs while others entered it with the wrong ones? What is more, what right do we have to believe this is so?
St. Norbert stripped me of my dreams, my securities, my truths and my god. For these gifts, I am thankful, because truth is pliable. It’s not some rigid, other-worldly object. It ebbs and flows along with our developing story. Yet we snuggle our beloved truths closely to our breasts, carrying them from birth to the grave without ever so much as questioning how they came to be in the first place.
We become so enthralled by custom and its offered securities that we neglect the possibility of something other. But we must believe there is something better than our current reality. To deny that possibility is statistically and abjectly absurd.
Over four years I lost nearly every friend I’ve ever had. My reality has been shattered more times than I can count. The world seems bigger now. Time moves slower. Without St. Norbert, I would have slept walked through the rest of my life. Each day would have faded into the next until my pulse stopped.
St. Norbert raised the curtain on the theatre of life. I am just beginning to make out the cast and the play has only just begun.