The UM experience: a lesson learned

Reflection is painstaking, but regurgitation is painful; these are truths, the slighted wisdom of a very young, very naive twentysomething who didn’t really realize how much of an effect these past four years had on her brain until she took up the latter activity, aided, of course, by tall highballs (or plastic red cups, I’m not picky) full of gin and tonic, lime wedges and ice. And still, to think that each day that passes brings me closer to something that one might identify as adulthood, well, that’s just impossible. Like you, faithful reader, I just never thought that I would grow up. Does anyone? And more importantly, do we really have to leave everything we’ve known for our whole lives behind in order to move forward? I do not know, and though most days I’m anxious and ready to find out what life is all about, some days I want to wash my hands of it all and stay in bed forever because the days only seem to be getting longer, and yes, I do not want to get old either.

I’ve been listening to a lot of Bob Dylan these days. Usually I’m a sucker for the Stones, Steve Miller, or my blessed Gin Blossoms, but lately I find myself stuck on “Like a Rolling Stone” because that’s some real truth right there; you might just find yourself a little in love with that song if you’ve been feeling like you’re living in limbo. It’s comforting to know that someone else has been before where you now are, spit it up, and had the courage to turn all of that pain into a fine, fine specimen of a song. But, what I like so much about the song has less to do with the brilliance of lyrics that compare self-deconstruction with the aimless, downward path taken by a rolling stone, and more to do with the encouraging notion that it might actually be possible to take everything that is so senseless and absurd about a life-growing up, growing older, living through tragedy, finding wonderment-and not only make it real and useful, but share it with others too; if that’s not the highest level of reflection-the selfless kind-then maybe we shouldn’t even bother to search for the good within the bad, produce art, read books, or listen to music. Maybe we shouldn’t bother with love, extending olive branches of ourselves to find common ground with another. Reflection is the basis for creation, and it is only possible to create if we can dig up and pour over whatever it is that is gnawing at the surface. This is what truth is made from, and this is what counts the most.

So, I guess that I could say that I’ve found my own truth here, that I’ve learned that there is no such thing as black and white, but only shades of gray. I’ve found along the way that it is far wiser to listen to the confusing murmurs of the heart than it is to believe that the proven analytical will rise above it all (and to think that I was one fortuitous MFA acceptance away from slaving away in law school!). But, besides taking every piece of advice with a grain of salt, the greatest truth I have realized out of my experiences living out the past four years is that sturdy faith in the unknown is perhaps the best way to find fate, and yes, that everything, absolutely everything, does and will happen for a reason, and though it may be futile to try and find the point of pointlessness, there is always some measure to be gained and some lesson to be learned.

Vanessa Cutler is on her way to writing the next Great American Novel or winning the Nobel Prize in Literature. Yeah, right.