“The most important reason for going from one place to another is to see what’s in between, and they took great pleasure in doing just that.”
Less than week from now I will cross the stage at the National Arts Centre, pick up my $40 000 piece of paper and politely return to my seat and wait while the other new grads do the same. I’ll then pose for some cheesy photos, get yelled at by my mom for making silly faces in 80% of the photos, return my gown and my university career will be at lease temporarily over.
That’s it four years of my life summed up in a painfully long 4 hour ceremony. Full of pomp and circumstance. A grand celebration of a series of ordinary life moments.
The moment I realized I was going into an exam semi-high on cold meds because I had accidentally double dosed.
The moment my printer died at 12:34am the night before the 8:30am deadline for my 25 page paper (a standard university experience as far as I’m concerned).
The moment I got the first failing grade of my life, and the moment I got my first 10.
The moment I crossed the half-marathon finish line for the first time, and the 4 times after that.
The first time I had poutine (yes, I waited until university for that treat).
Moments on the canal, in Starbucks, busing around the city, reading textbooks on the bus because I had no time to waste.
Moments that somehow got me to the moment I stumbled across the stage for that overpriced piece of paper that told the world I didn’t waste the last four years of my life.
Something I really didn’t need a piece of paper to tell me. Though my Facebook log probably begs to differ.
But sitting back here thinking about all the incredible moments I’ve had over the last 4 years brings me back to a conversation and the reaction I had to this conversation about 4 months ago on a cold winter’s morning on OC Transpo.
I heard two gentlemen talking about the most mundane of things about their lives. The routines – how one of the men had to take the day before off because his son was sick and his wife had to be at work and how the other was exhausted from a dizzying number of early mornings taking his son to hockey practice. And my gut reaction (despite the fact that 98% of the time I am pretty sure I don’t want offspring) was that I wanted that.
The mundane and ordinary.
The routines of a thriving family.
Even if they were a little bubonically plaguey that day or if they made me get up earlier than currently I get up to run. In that moment if someone had allowed me to simply fast forward to soccer vans and hockey practice, I might have said yes.
But something struck me the last few months. Especially in the weeks before I ran my second half-marathon – in the average training season for a half-marathon I run more than 26 half marathons in preparation for this one race. Race day always gets me excited, I spend the week before ramping myself up, there are a lot of excited squeals and bouncing up and down as I try to not focus on how much taper week sucks, but I realized this time – the race was just another run. Not in a “whatever I’m not even excited” sort of way, but I realized that what I enjoyed was the season. You are able to run the half-marathon because you remember all the kilometers you ran to get there. I enjoyed the early morning runs with my friends at the Running Room, through sleet, wind, snow, freezing rain – whatever – we ran. I laughed on the days I watched the weather forecast and ran when I was told it would be the warmest, knowing that the difference between -22C and -20C was more psychological than anything. I enjoyed challenging myself every run to be better. Race day was just recognition that I did all that for a reason beyond I enjoy suffering on Sunday mornings.
And this graduation thing is the same way. I could care less about the ceremony. I’m really only going because mom says I have to. I can’t help it. I don’t get graduation ceremonies. What matters to me isn’t where I ended up necessarily – it’s how I got there. It’s all the moments I collected along the way. The coffees with friends and between classes, because let’s face it, now way I got enough sleep the last 8 months of my degree. The chats with professors and the moment I realized that I had intelligent things to say and professors knew it too. The essays that suddenly fell into place after 12 hours glaring at the screen on my laptop. The bus rides I got up for; the books I read, the books I wanted to read, and the books I really should have read.
It sounds cheesy, but truly, the best part is the journey.
After I caught myself thinking “I just want that… ” I thought, “I want what? …well suburban life with whiny bratty children demanding to consume my me time and cover me with snot and attitude….” and took it back (I know my outlook on suburb life is dismal given how well I fit in with the suburbanites). But really I also thought about how I didn’t want to skip all the good stuff in between. Or the bad stuff. Because there would be bad stuff. Eventually I would meet my husband, I may have children, and there may be fights with both. Eventually I would have the job of my dreams and a semi-stable life with less of the uncertainty that clouds my life as I wait in limbo for grad school next year. But in the meantime, I wanted to enjoy all the moments. Collect them and photographs and revel in the experience, because it’s that experience that would shape where I ended up.
The future is exciting, it’s normal to want to zip ahead to whatever you’re aiming for, but really, truly, the most fun is what happens at the pit stops.