Quintessential Kenyon: Student Life, Uncut

The Past, The Present, and the Future: What I have Learned at Kenyon

Jake Fishbein
February 20, 2013

I have learned many things in college. I have learned to write, to manage my time, and to read what some would consider a number of pages sure to bring on insanity. I have learned about the connection between the Iliad and the Aeneid, the reasons why Bridget Cleary was burned in Ireland, and how Orientalism influenced the Vietnam War.

(You'll definitely read some interesting books in college. This one really opened up my thoughts on reality vs. perception. Photo courtesy of Google Images.)

I have learned many things at Kenyon.

But these skills and facts that are both useful and fascinating are not truly what I count the core of my learning experience. Instead, being here has taught me the importance of the moment.

It sounds cliché, I know. I was always told how fast time goes by. In fact, I remember sitting on my couch in Santa Fe two years ago on my birthday texting my friend Andrew Borrasso. I had just returned from a glorious road trip taking me to Chicago, St. Louis, Tornado Alley, and Boulder. I was turning 20 years old. I texted him and told him how next year we’d be able to go to bars together. He texted me back with a wise warning: “Don’t look forward to it too much, enjoy all your time on The Hill.”

(Gipson fell asleep in the back of my car. I don't know how he did this when a hell-storm was approaching us from the south. Jackson and I were terrified.)

It’s cliché. We hear it all the time. Enjoy the moment. Don’t remain in the past or live in the future. Love where you are right now!

I can say with certainly that I know this, that I’ve learned it, but I can’t say that I know how to apply it. Indeed I have often found myself caught in the past or thinking about hypothetical futures.

My junior year I had a rough time of it. I was stuck in the past. A past I didn’t really want to forget and yet a past that was painful to remember in the present. To forget I immersed myself in school and television, trying to inhabit a world that was not my own in order to exist content in the present.

(As much as I wanted my life to be like The League, it is probably a good thing it never was. Photo courtesy of Google Images.)

This was not living in the present. This was not “enjoy[ing] all [my] time on The Hill.” But it was a lesson. A lesson perhaps in misery, but a lesson nonetheless that taught me the most valuable truth

“Seize the present and the door to the future will be unlocked; live in the past and it will forever be shut.”

It may be impossible to lie in bed and not think about the past or think about the pending and unknown future. But I have learned at Kenyon, not in the classroom or in the library, but through friendships and hardships what I do believe the key to success is.

But it is my key. Perhaps it is not yours. But I guarantee it, when you venture off alone into the unknown, to college and the academic challenges that await you, that you will find your key too. Maybe it won’t be while reading Kant, eating in the dining hall, or watching aimless television, but my friend, you will find it.