I had a mild revelation at the Community Day last Saturday. I was looking at a small group, their eyes glittering, overcome by the shear wonder of it all as they trotted around eating as much free food as they could. I am talking, of course, about the ponies. There they were, a handful of ponies, basking in the sunshine and munching on the most expensive grass in New England. They were having a blast, enjoying the thrill of “a day of the good stuff”. And I suddenly thought “I must have looked like that last year”. This year my main thought was “hey, they’ve got the pony rides again”. So what has changed?
Let’s compare and contrast my first year state of mind with that of the second year.
* Last year I took my camera to the Community day. This year I took the free food.
* Last year I thought I had all the time in the world. This year I feel like I’m on borrowed time.
* Last year I was looking forward to fall. This year I’m dreading winter.
* Last year I was amazed at the hordes of gardeners tending to the lawns. This year I shout “can you turn those leaf blowers off?”
* Last year I thought Baker was one of the few buildings with character on campus. This year I’ve found it lobotomized.
* Last year I fell in love with the food at Spangler. This year I get grumpy if they don’t have my favorite spicy chicken sandwich.
* Last year One Western Ave looked like a construction site. This year… well maybe not a whole lot has changed after all.
But the main change in my attitude has been one of complacency. I’ve got used to Harvard’s face (albeit a face that seems in a state of perpetual facelift with cranes and geotechs everywhere). I’ve got used to Harvard’s ways. I am taking things for granted that should never be taken for granted: friends in close proximity, access to great learning, tasty grass.
So my plan for these next few brief months is to not just look at the grass, not just smell the grass but to (and I never studied Latin so forgive me for this fallacy) carpe gramen – I plan to seize the grass.
Next year, when those same ponies are gazing wide-eyed at the lush green grass of Harvard, I won’t be there but I plan on having had my fill by then.