Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

Final Reflection

ekthorp's picture

It is really hard for me to write this week. Not just because it is cold, or my battery is dying, or because I don’t want to. But because coming here, for the “last time” this semester (I say “last” because I may visit on my own before I leave) forces me to think about how this semester has gone so far. In a way, Rhoads Pond has really reflected the way this semester has gone for me. In the beginning of the year, everything was beautiful. The pond was green and lush, absolutely gorgeous with life. Now, it’s different.  Sandy had strewn the pre-existing shrubbery away, leaving a barren and brown landscape.  Geese still stay on the water, and the reflections on the ripples are still mystically magnificent, but the tones are duller, muted. That’s how I’ve been feeling as the semester draws to an end.

I’ve been in a rather emotional place for the last few days, making just getting here a hassle.  Over a month ago I injured my knee in a Rugby scrimmage, and was told it was a minor injury, nothing needing surgery or preventing me from playing in the fall. A few days ago, I found out that, according to my MRI, I had actually torn my ACL and need surgery and an intensive 6-9 month intensive physical therapy recovery. Everything I had thought, everything I was and am, was completely reconfigured by this news. I have always been an explorer- I climb on trees and unsafe ridges. My friends always tease me for my desire to climb on things, especially high ledges and branches. I’m a rugby player- I have been since the day I entered this school, and assumed I would be until the day I left. But since I hurt me knee, and especially since I found out how bad it really is, I’ve had to change.  Normally, to get to my spot, I easily hoist myself up and over the fence surrounding the pond; now, I’ve had to find an easier way to get here. It takes longer, I have to be cautious, and I don’t like it. And I hate that I am attaching any resentment to Rhoads Pond. I love it here. I loved it at the beginning of the semester and I love it now. But being constantly reminded of the fact that my identity, so tied up with my physical ability, is changing makes sitting here, just thinking about it, really difficult.

That’s probably good, though. I have a tendency to force thoughts out of my mind, to make myself think about the million and a half other things I have to do that day. But sitting here, staring at the murky water, nothing else came to my mind.  I never cry, but I found myself close to tears just thinking about how this semester started, and how it is ending.

Almost symbolically, as I went to write my final justification for why I don’t want to be thinking about all these things right now, all the geese floating on the pond flew away, leaving a chaotic pattern of tides on the pond’s surface.  See, next semester I’m leaving for Copenhagen. I’m simultaneously thrilled and terrified. The reasons I’m thrilled are not so relevant here, but the reasons I’m nervous are much more pertinent. I’m scared I’ll go away and not want to come back; I’m anxious my friends will forget me, and I’m absolutely miserable I’ll miss the last May Day and Step Sing I’ll have with my senior friends. I’m both scared of leaving a chaotic mess in my absence, and of having everybody just forget my existence and go on living their lives. Of course, I kinda want them to do that, but I also hope I have made enough of an impact that they won’t forget me.

So coming to this place I’ve been watching all semester, tracking its seasonal progress, was very difficult for me. I know that, just like me, it will return to the state it began next year. I know it will recover from this dull and dirthed existence. But will I? Will I be able to come back the same person, will I be able to adjust to the environmental changes that happen around me? Will I participate in them? Or will I, like the geese, fly away, leaving a chaos that chooses not to be changed?