All we have are the stories before death


All but Death, can be Adjusted—
Dynasties repaired—
Systems—settled in their Sockets—
Citadels—Dissolved—

Wastes of Lives—resown with Colors
By Succeeding Springs—
Death—unto itself—Exception—
Is exempt from Change—

-749, Emily Dickinson, 1863

Everything we ever do in the world will turn to dust, and that is our only guarantee. Our loved ones, friends and families will crumble along with any Trump Towers we wall ourselves in or the memories we leave behind in journals written on grand adventures in faraway lands. So here we are marching towards our doom, one day at a time, one class at a time, one math assignment at a time. But what else could we be doing? Anything, except stopping our march.

The great folly of our educational system is it ignores this truth and sends us into the world with guns blazing to carve out our own little corner of eternity. Rome fell, the sun set on the British Empire and who was the 25th winner of the Nobel Peace Prize? An unremembered Fridtjof Nansen, from Norway, in 1922 for his work with refugees in Russia from World War I. Whatever corners we carve out and wall up with turrets pointed out against all of eternity, will be white washed like Tom Sawyer’s fence. But do not despair students! Take this into account, accept it and find the freedom that is telling a tale with an end.

School predominantly is used as a system of accomplishment in order to make people (that’s us) useful to the world, to make us employable. That is well and dandy, but it’s the other side our teachers (well, the good ones do), counselors and administrators don’t tell us: school is an opportunity to really learn. Learning is the change of the individual over time through experiences, both actions and ideas one can foster late at night when no one is on Facebook chat and the mind won’t sleep .

The world we have today, with all of its regulations and expected paths, school, career, marriage, children and a house, didn’t always exist. The world is the way it is today because this is what people have been doing, but there is no rule that says we have to continue to need economies or even toasters! We, the people who will live in the future, will shape that future. Not only the powerful politicians, lobbyist groups and businessmen, but the individuals, like the people sitting next to us, will shape the future. Really, just by doing what they are doing sitting there.

What would a banker be if no one put money in a bank? The only reason our financial system works –and has the ability to fail and cause wanton devastation to our neighbors– is because people use banks. The only reason churches marry people is because people go to churches to get married. If people don’t go to church, if people bury their money in the backyard or even under a tree along the highway late at night, churches and banks shrivel up and all of a sudden the world looks very different.

There is a stigma from American Society for not doing your best to be rich and successful. There is also an undertow of subculture doing the exact opposite, trying desperately not to be considered a “normal American.” For example, Trump has Trump Tower and there is the guy from an upper middle class family sitting on the porch of a dilapidated house with tattoos and a cheap beer bottle sitting by his leather boot. Both of those ideas only exist because the effects of people acting this way is perceived and can be categorized.

But there is no reason we have to pick any beaten path; we are free to wander down any road crisscrossing Time’s sand. When enough people wander in a particular direction, then it is measured and labeled.

But we, the young, the young at heart, we students who still learn, have the chance to go anywhere we want. That is the real opportunity we have. We can be engineers, make gadgets for Apple and live entirely comfortably. But we, and our neighbors, can do so much more and that is where life gets interesting: when the engineer wanders through tomes of Shakespeare and stumbles down an untraveled path.