An Education

You can picture it easily, the Ann Arbor Law Quad. The distinct image of stone, leaf, and blade of grass all weaving in and out of a bright blue June sky. You can nearly smell the books, hear the depth of lectures, studies, and silences that must have taken place here over many years.

A year and a half ago I sit with a new friend, sharing music, and songs, laughing to ourselves that this is considered work and nervous, but excited to see what Monday will bring.

As we rise more out of our studies and sink deeper into the bed of grass, an old friend approaches. He is kind (he has always been kind) and his companion is equally charming and disarming at once.  He is from a past so opposite of this present moment that, for a moment, the two dimensions don't seem to lie in the same span of time. It is as if the past is attempting to resurface while proceeding equally with the present into future.

As these two worlds turned towards each other at either end of the law quad, I thought again, for the nth time, that I was leaving a world of music, arts, and truth and instead latching hold on the world of insight, launch, and iterate. I sometimes wonder if I left those two worlds spinning in the Law Quad, or if the almighty rush of indecision that sometimes whirls through my heads is a result of their colliding aftershock.

And yet, as I saw each sphere coincide so peacefully in that pure moment, so too did I happen upon that which I was always trying to find in college. The stuff that my colleague and I would sit in the Cambridge college gardens lamenting over for hours; the lost promise of a scholarly generation left to fend for itself with avid dreamers with tentacled interests, instead of pondering the world with thinkers with depth of ideas.

I don't think much anymore, I dream. And in dreaming I am lost.

Thinking was what turned dream's ambition into action. Thinking was what changed my course of study from theatre to literature, to a spectrum art. Dreaming alone would have only further fueled the indecisiveness. Thinking in tandem was what gave me direction.

I need to think, need to take time to learn, but maybe not quite yet comprehend. To reread, depict, decode, decipher, and, then finally, understand. College gives us the notion that there a really big ideas out there that thinking will make happen. If we dream not at all, the thoughts are mundane, without purpose, in-actionable.  But without thinking we dreamers are subject to only the extremities of our subconsciousness, lost in a world of endless proxies, what ifs, and whys.

This time away from the "real world" has given me space to dream more thoughtfully, a terrifying and exciting prospect. It had given me space to think about what I truly am and what I most desperately want. It has made my mind at once both open and confined, my brain like a bone encrusted fishbowl just waiting for something to drop in, swim around, and see if it suits.

The later the night, the most abstract the write. Putting off dreaming is often the consequence of the real world. But, with great thought firm in hand this time, I welcome you dreams.


Currently Listening To:

"Back to Campus Suite" by Ben Toth from Liberal Arts 

It's the warm windows of an evening settling in through the white linen curtains. It's the view of fresh spring leaves, green as frogs, fanning back and forth over the cool stone mansions of academia. It's a private walk in central park when you have the bench all to yourself and the air finally begins to feel clean again. It is pure refreshment embodied in Ben Toth's "Back to Campus Suite" that accompanies Josh Radnor's little-film-that-could Liberal Arts. 

This song is extremely difficult to track down online. It is not on Spotify, Amazon and iTunes sell only full-album and YouTube is surprisngly vacant of even a crunchy rip off version. Perhaps not so surprising is it then that the forve behind the strict control of its release is the only person to have made it availbale to the public for gratis. Ben Toth's selected clip from the film features our lead's picturesque drive from Manhattan to Kenyon, Ohio as he makes his way to a former Professor's retirement party. Having moved on from his collegiate aspirations of authorship to full-time hack college admissions officer (likely NYU based on the opening street corners), Jesse Fisher finds the ability to breathe again amidst the live oaks, thriving green lawns, and shiny faced co-eds filled with promise and opportunity.

Jesse's energy feeds into this both nostalgic and auspicious track which leans on its liltingly simple piano melodies while placing fairy-like flutes amidst, harp, violin and perhaps even cello. It most strongly reminds me of passing under redwoods on Stanford campus as a kid, weaving between the Rodans and making daisy chains on week when the gardeners allowed the lawns a few weeks rest. It feels like going home to a place one at one point called so. Though there have been many since, this will still welcome and inspire, direct, educate, and pass on.

[vimeo 123854025 w=800 h=450]

Back to Campus from Ben Toth on Vimeo.

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