The recent bloodbath that took place in Virginia Tech a few days ago is affecting me more than I'd like it to. I can only think of 2 reasons why it is so: 1) either I feel deeply for these college kids who are now semi-deprived of a carefree, jocund college life that is essentially a source of memories to be regaled to the next few generations, or 2) that I suddenly realized how death can present itself to anyone, anywhere, any time and in any way — no warning at all. It is quite disturbing, no?
I was also once a college student that aimlessly roamed the dormitory halls, classroom buildings, cafeterias and even the library (believe it or not) for 4 whole years — 4 years of my life that was well-spent and eternally etched in my head. It never occurred to me that I might get into a fatal accident, more so get shot in the head by a repressed fellow student. It was only by sheer luck (though mathematicians can probably statistically disprove me on this) that those 4 years I spent in college were with relatively normal and mentally-balanced people. If there was one deranged person in my campus, thank heavens he or she didn't push through with an episode involving warfare.
I went to a pretty suburban college in Massachusetts within 10 minutes from Boston and with a cozy student population of about 5,000. We were all aspiring businessmen who were biding time in order to get that much-coveted piece of paper that will serve as our foot on the door to the nefarious corporate America. The decision for me to go to that particular business school was entirely my parents' only because a) they were paying for it through and through, and b) they were paying for it through and through *grin*. I got conned into taking up a business degree as I come from a business-oriented family — no doctors, no lawyers, no teachers, no architects, nada at all. Not even an ounce of exaggeration there. I figured that maybe I can excel in the trade just like everyone else that I'm related to by blood. Whether or not I did is a story reserved for another time… *enigmatic smile*
See, I could've gone to other business schools but my mum was adamant that I stayed out of the city so my choices were narrowed. She reckoned that it would lower my chances of getting abducted, mugged, raped, murdered, robbed,
Now, tell me, would it still have made any difference if my parents sent me to a college in Queens, New York or Peach Tree, Georgia? Or even a college in Wyoming boasting a population of 500,000 in the entire state?
Suddenly, all the precautionary measures that my parents took and that I know of while we were choosing the ideal college were rendered invalid. What is the benchmark of “safe” now? How can anyone make a college psycho-proof without inviting a lawsuit for discrimation? Is home school in vogue these days?
Here's the thing: If it's our time, then it's our time — no questions, no buts, no ifs. I had mixed feelings regarding that VTech student who was part of the unfortunate few who got robbed of their lives. He was only a few months away from receiving his doctorate. If God whispered to him a few years ago that he will die around 9 in the morning of April 16, 2007, would he have still pursued his PhD or would he have done something else? Would he have gone on a completely different path and gathered experiences that only one can imagine?
It really makes us think.
I'll be outright truthful — if I know that I were only to live another year in my life, I will not be where I am right now. I have no idea where I'll be, but I know I will be busy sucking the juices out of life in gallons and truckloads. I've recently learned that I'm sidelined by risk aversion and that I tend to think too much of the future. I've only begun to make up for all the lost opportunities to make a difference and to really live. This includes bringing financial security and a successful career several notches down on the priority ladder. I used to obsess about those a few years back. I thought, “Hey, if I had those, then I can do about anything else I want. After all, money's a powerful ticket that can bring me anywhere I want.”
Right. I think St. Peter will give me a negative score on how I played the game of life.
Here's the tricky part. I am highly aware that it's malapropros to be horribly reckless and irresponsible, but I also think that we all deserve to be happy and to skip out on the bitter realities derailing our true dreams and ambitions. A happy medium can be achieved, methinks, where we can still enjoy life without necessarily ruining it. As the Greeks have it: nothing in excess — moderation, balance and self control. There is reason, and there is passion — poignantly addressed by the battle between Apollo and Dionysos in ancient Greek mythology. Both can be blended together but keep it true in heart what matters the most. And that can only be decided by us and us alone. Not anyone, not society, not religion, not the government, and not our families. Nonetheless, as many would probably agree, it is easier said than done. And I know for a fact that this particular kink in life is where I struggle.
God never gave us a cheat sheet when He brought us all on earth. We're essentially on our own to scavenge for guidance and truth. However, I'm sure He meant for us to enjoy the journey. And until He decides when He wants to drop the axe, we shall continue living. It's just up to us whether or not we should live passionately, reasonably or a cocktail of both.
The question is: If there is a gun pointing directly at your face and you are literally given 2 seconds to think of how to get out of the situation (which you clearly won't be able to) — would you be desperately begging for reprieve because you feel that you haven't fully lived life yet? That you haven't done half of the things that you've truly wanted to accomplish?
I say, take your checklist and start ticking now… and not tomorrow. I'm sure at least 32 people will vouch for that and will say “Trust me, I would too.”
PS — When was the last time that you did something for the first time?