Some thoughts on endings

I recently finished my semester in Dubai, and returned home to Bloomington-Normal, Illinois. I have had some time to reflect on my semester abroad, all of my wonderful experiences, finishing my undergraduate career and endings, in general.

During the last week or so of my time in Dubai, a lot of my friends (in Dubai and here at home) asked me in one form or another if I was sad about ending my time abroad and going back home. My gut instinct, and how I truly feel, was that I really was not sad at all, but I was asked so many times that I eventually had to come up with reasons why I wasn’t sad. I ultimately figured out that it was because I have a lot of really exciting things coming up in my future, not the least of which is the graduate program I will be entering into this fall at the University of Chicago. That helped bring some excitement to the prospect of ending an otherwise amazing experience.

In addition to what is to come, I also couldn’t get myself to be sad about my time in Dubai ending because I had such an amazing experience. I know common logic would say that if I enjoyed everything so much, shouldn’t I be sad that there is no possibility of more such amazing things happening, on account of my time there ending. Although that is certainly true, I am more interested in reflecting positively on time well-spent than ruminating on what could have been.

My time in Dubai is not the only important “ending” that has been on my mind as of late. I will also be graduating from the University of Illinois in a couple of weeks. Traditionally, the graduation ceremonies are called commencement ceremonies, and that is how I prefer to think of them. Starting a graduate program after graduation, moving to a new city and looking forward to new adventures is really the proper way to cap up my time at U of I. I think it is the best way for me to pay homage to all the people and organizations that have had a profound impact on my time spent as an undergraduate there. All the enriching experiences I have had as an undergraduate have shaped what is to come for me in the future and my future is the best way for me to make the most of my past.

I stumbled upon a bag of cards while cleaning my room yesterday. It happened to be full of cards I received when I graduated high school in 2006. Most of them reminded me how close I was with my friends in high school; I was truly blessed in that sense. And then I happened to open a card from a friend who passed away last winter in a car crash and it suddenly sobered all of these elated emotions I’ve been feeling. Seeing his message, reading his hand-writing and seeing his name really put all of these experiences into perspective. I truly believe that the impermanence of life is what makes it so valuable. As in the Epic of Gilgamesh, when the Goddess Siduri tells the protagonist this is it, we only get one life (after he has harrowed many adventures to reach heaven and ask about the true meaning of life). She says "love the child who holds you by the hand, and give your wife pleasure in your embrace," I hope to embrace the past that I have been given and work for the future that I am not guaranteed.