Charmed lives

| Staff Columnist

A few weeks ago, my friend and I sat down to a four-hour dinner at Ibby’s. It was the kind of dinner that, had it been in a movie, would have faded with ease between shots of us eagerly chatting over salads, deep in conversation at the entrée, laughing with spoonfuls of dessert, and finally, sitting pleasantly with our chins in our hands while the waiters impatiently tapped their feet. We talked about our lives—where we came from, who we are now, where we want to be—and when we finally dropped our napkins into our chairs and got up to leave, I was feeling rather lovely. As we walked through the DUC, with Friday night beckoning, my friend and I reflected on how lucky we were: we loved our school, our friends, our families, and our activities. “We live charmed lives,” she said wisely. We reached the door. It was pouring.

“Ugh, no.”

“Why is it raining?”

“I don’t have an umbrella. I hate my life.”

“Oh, this sucks.”

We stamped our feet, kicked the walls, and cursed the gods above who so rudely caused such an inconvenience. When the rain died down, we stepped into the night and gushed at the prospect of impending summer. Our momentary hatred of life dried with the puddles.

A few days later, I sat on the phone on the sunny steps of Bowles Plaza and told my grandmother about my summer plans to study in England.

“I’m not sure what I did to deserve this,” I told her. “But I am very excited and enormously lucky.”

“Well, you take advantage of every moment, Selene-bean,” my grandmother sang gaily. I assured her I had every intention of working as diligently and as enthusiastically as I ever had. I loved my education and was thrilled to continue it.

The next day, I cried into the 800 pages of Middlemarch, loathing the magnitude of reading required to study English.

“Where is the weekend!” I wailed to my stuffed alpaca, Magda. “I hate school!”

The pattern is never ending, and I see the same thing happening around me every day. Our opinions of our lives, so it seems, undulate like the wake of a motorboat, and anything from a pang of hunger to a joyous wave across campus from a friend can be a catalyst.

Wash. U. was voted No. 1 Happiest Students when I entered my freshman year, and I believed it. People are genuinely happy here. That Princeton Review rank may seem silly (how can you quantify happiness?), but I think it proves that around here, grumpiness is usually fleeting. While complete joy and contentment may never be permanent, who would want it to be? Our laments only make that moment when the frown changes to a beaming smile even better. A sunrise would be no sunrise at all unless there was night. What’s more is that the sun doesn’t cease to exist after sunset—it’s just a little harder to see it when it’s on the other side of the world. As finals week approaches, remember that your momentary grumbles (or maybe daily grumbles) don’t negate the “charmed life” you lead—it’s just that, at those moments, the charmed part is a little harder to see. So as the year winds down, and our days get busier, and the seniors pack up, and our summer plans that we haven’t totally planned out yet seem looming, take a step back from that wretched assignment or rainy day or annoying e-mail you have to send. Remember that those moments—no matter how inconvenient—don’t shape or stain the wonderful little situation we have as a whole.

Selena Lane is a sophomore in Arts and Sciences. She can be reached at [email protected]

Sign up for the email edition

Stay up to date with everything happening as Washington University returns to campus.