When I wrote a local newspaper column in high school, I would sometimes let people pick out random topics for me to work into my writing. It was partially a challenge to see how much I could bullshit on one topic or another, but when I started stacking the suggestions it became a puzzle to solve. Where do these seemingly random pieces fit? And how could I make them connected as part of a coherent piece?
Tonight, I decided to revisit that game. I solicited Twitter for some suggestions. They were pretty lame, but I promised I’d credit those who gave ideas and such. So, our five must-have pieces were:
1. @cmccreesh says it’s been a year since graduation.
2. @marleysmom said hot dogs.
3. @sarahpaol said the beauty of veggies.
5. @meghanswope said a lot of things. It was a very long response. But she said the word “retrospective” at some point so I think that’ll do.
The passenger seat is a very familiar place to me. You see, I’ve never had my driver’s license (although I did recently get my permit) and the right side of a car has become as natural to me as it is in countries where people drive from the right side. I am used to the positioning of my body to the window on the right, the different locations cars place handles, the weird stuff friends bury in glove compartments. Many times my first introduction to someone has been moments before I hopped into their car for a ride to a bar, a friend’s place, a dinner. That takes a lot of trust, and maybe I’m dumb for trusting so easily, but it also has helped me become far more creative (how will I get to this place) and a bit more resourceful (what do I really need).
We throw the idea of trust around like it’s a chew toy these days. This website needs your permission to do this, or this politician says they will do that thing you’ve always hoped would be done. Our lives, our information, our privacy, are all being trusted to ideas and organizations much larger, richer, and more powerful than us. Is that what’s best? It’s hard to put such a thing to the test, but isn’t that what Facebook just did last week? They went public, looking for investors to trust that their money will return with dividends and success. It was with much fanfare, and appears to have started with a bit of a stumble. Investors don’t seem to be trusting Facebook with their money as much as teenagers do with their prom pictures. Time will tell how that shakes out.
We also trust a lot these days in tradition. Memorial Day weekend is for barbeques, with hot dogs and burgers. Our social services are trusted to do the right thing, even if they make the news far too often for the wrong choices. We tend not to question tradition, because it’s so engrained that changing it is an uphill battle.
I graduated college almost exactly a year ago, and it was a traditional ceremony - the 116th of its nature for the school. When I committed to this college as a senior in high school, it was with the trust that I would be able to face the world as I left the door four years later. Those years come at a price, of course, and not just in the wallet. It was a calculated risk, or as much of a calculation as you can make when you’re 18. It was a leap of faith. A leap I cherish every moment of to this day, but that doesn’t mean it turns out that way for all of us.
I’ve mentioned before that leaving college felt like running into a brick wall. It’s something you can’t properly warn against, nor would I really want to. When covering senior week and commencement this year, I consciously tried not to define the littler moments too much. Everyone has the recognition. It could happen weeks in advance, or in a quiet moment with a friend a few days after graduation actually occurs. It’s a moment that no one ever forgets because it’s the moment you know whether or not the leap of faith worked. It’s how you know the trust was worth it, or not.
There are a lot of things I don’t do that a 23-year-old should, like driving a car, working out and eating a good share of vegetables consistently. There are also a lot of things I’ve done that I never thought I would, like running a radio station, studying abroad and finishing the entire first season of Smash unironically. The difference between those I have done and those I haven’t? I opened the door. Sometimes pulling the handle is the hardest part, especially when that leap of faith puts a lot on the line with you in the driver’s seat.
I’m gonna eat more vegetables and even some vegetarian food this summer. I’m also getting my driver’s license and starting to run. My hand has been on the handle for a while now, and I think it’s time to open the door on the side of the car that lets me take some more of that control.
What doors do you need to open this summer? Let’s leap together.