I’ve often thought that life is hard, cold and unforgiving. From the moment we are born, forced out of our mother’ wombs, the one lifeline we’ve ever known is cut, and so we cry, wailing loudly, as we desperately suck up air. But, amidst the noisy bawling and acrimonious crying of a newborn baby sits a miracle, the first breath of life. Nowhere are living and suffering more entangled, more synonymous with one another. Yet while we often find the time to complain about our woes and misfortunes, our myriad regrets and endless mistakes, we forget about the tiny miracles planted inside our struggles.
The struggle has become all too real for me because it’s that time of the year. Now is when I know that my future self, looking back on my college years, will stop fast-forwarding his life’s tape and click play. Right now every moment counts, as I try to cram each second, minute, and hour into studying. Here it is, three exams, two projects, and one anxious kid dreading Monday morning. Finals season had me up until 5am last night coding, and awake till 3 the night before, as I stared in awe at my classmates dressed up in suits and gowns for formals as they drank, danced, and partied while I sat in my room studying. It’s been a stressful time, for sure, and every moment I stare at the clock racing against time to jam more information in my head, simultaneously cursing myself for never starting my projects earlier or studying sooner. But, as I exited Huntsman Hall, my second home, citadel of Wharton, and Penn’s ultimate snake pit, nature bequeathed me the greatest of gifts.
The night was a deep indigo, and the Walk was quiet. Locust sat empty as I closed my eyes and breathed in perfumed air. The soft breeze tickled my skin bringing with it the redolent fragrances of grass and flowers, and something magical that felt familiar, but I was at a loss to identify. I ambled towards the quad smiling because suddenly I was no longer in Philadelphia, I was home in Connecticut. It was spring, late at night when the townspeople sleep, but the adventurers just begin their evening quests. I was reminded of long journeys late at night through the woods, hiking up to the crest of the Route 25 overlook eyeing the small packs of cars as they whistled by. I was returned to a daring trek through Holy Land gazing in awe at the brilliant illumined cross, body irradiated from its luster.
The night was lit just enough to see a paper in the dark, so I decided I would complete my economics practice tests outside. I walked into the Morgan door, entering the dusty quad, dropped off my backpack in EF Smith 405, and returned to the junior balcony, my favorite place in all of Penn. In the moments I was inside my room, a drizzle had fallen on University city. The aroma of wet grass, and the silent serenity of nighttime just after the rain, was overpowering.
I was suddenly back home in the summertime playing Pokemon Go in the town green, when for a brief time it felt like all the town kids were brought together across race, gender, or social status. I was sitting in my yard late at night laughing with my parents or friends. It was early September, and I was lounging in a hammock on Stouffer Terrace laughing with my two new friends, as we shared jokes, dreams, and life stories amid the light of the stars, moon, and smoldering cigars. I was leaning on the junior balcony pyramid, alone, or with a girl I had just met, staring at the midnight sky, counting the stars, not talking, just smiling, as the future was full of possibilities.
So while I was tired and dreary, my head swimming with management terms and economic equations, nature brought me a gift. I was reminded of my favorite memories, and reenergized with extreme happiness. For some, the new weather might have been upsetting, for they had to study and could not enjoy the beauty outdoors, but for me it was a small miracle that made my smile as I continued cramming away.