A couple of months ago my friends and I went to a Florence and the Machine concert. I had never really listened to the music. The one song that I could name was Dog Days Are Over, but when your friends want to go and they are obsessed, you usually don’t argue with them. We made the drive to the concert and I tagged along, maybe dragging my feet a little on the way to the car. My friends would look at each other and giggle with the sort of excitement that bordered on mania. Then it started. The music plus the lyrics plus her stage antics made the concert absolutely one of the best I had been to. Immediately afterward I downloaded all the Florence I could get my hands on. I must say, I think I am infected. I have been listening to Florence all the time here in Mauritius, I think my fellow Fellows can attest to that.
The main reason I have fallen for Florence is that it reminds me of my youth. I know I know, I am 22 years old, what do I know of youth. I know there is something intoxicating about it. I am the lone graduate in our group of fellows and I am constantly reminded of it when the others talk of New Haven and how excited they are to get back to school. The favorite restaurants, the late night snack stops, the comfy chairs in the library that are not conducive to doing work. I have come to realize that I will never experience those moments again. I will never be in my suite again with my roommates, I will never go to brunch, I will never lie on Old Campus, and I will never have the study sessions on Sundays with my team. All of this is now in my past. This realization has created a hole in me. A hole I think Florence is attempting to fill. Sounds cheesy but the music and lyrics calm my nostalgia. The hole gets bigger when I realize that I will never step on the ice as a varsity athlete again. I will never play a game at the caliber I have for the past four years. Thinking about it now, it is synonymous to death. I have lost something. Something I can never get back. My college career is over.
This brings me to the power of nostalgia. Nostalgia, I have come to realize, is a powerful tool. I am sad that the time has passed and that it will never be the same again, but I will never forget those moments. The times when I laughed so hard with my teammates that I cried and couldn’t breathe. The moments on the ice when I was caught in a race, battling for possession, fighting to win. These are burned into my memory.
You know those moments that bring you back to your childhood? Despite the fact that my childhood is not that far behind me, my time in Mauritius has shown me that I have drifted further from it than I had intended. I always intended to stay in tune with my inner child, to maintain the genuine excitement, curiosity and spontaneous nature that I used to have. I have come to realize that I have struggled to do so since graduation. The stress of big decisions, the call of the real world, and the unknown all drowned out the cries of my inner 10 year old. I have discovered that teaching is the best way to keep in touch with that inner child.
Barbara Walters was the speaker at my commencement this year. She had two great pieces of advice. One: Participate. You must participate in life. Don’t let it pass you by. Two: Find your bliss. My bliss has evaded me thus far. But I like to think I am on the right track.
Here is my advice: One. Remember the power of nostalgia. You never know where it might take you. Two. Listen to Florence and the Machine. The lyrics might remind you of something you had forgotten. Three. Take Barbara Walters’ advice. Four. Teach. At some point your should experience what it is like to be the person passing on knowledge, who knows, you might learn something. Five. Wear sunscreen.