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COLUMN: Past Year Ponderings

Bookish Bostonian

Asst. Metro Editor

Published: Thursday, December 12, 2013

Updated: Thursday, December 12, 2013 02:12

I have never been one to celebrate the New Year—it has yet to prove itself something to celebrate. Instead, I like to look at the year that is past.

I ask myself: What have I learned?
Another year is coming to a close, and I suppose it is time to ask myself that question.

I have been a student at Boston College for three semesters now, and I have been an editor for the Metro section for a year. Surely, I have learned something. After all of the hours spent writing columns and interviewing subjects and editing articles and losing sleep wondering if people will like my articles and then losing sleep because I remember how few people probably even read them—what does it all add up to?
I cannot look in the mirror anymore and say that I am the same high school graduate that showed up in his family’s SUV thinking he already had most of it all figured out—even though I do sometimes roll out of bed and look at my reflection in the bathroom mirror with surprise. Wasn’t I just a lanky 13-year-old with braces a moment ago? When did the nerdy kid finally decide to move out?
When I walked into my experience of getting to know BC and Boston, I just wanted to know that I would end up happy. But when I walked in with this expectation, I had forgotten some great advice I once learned over the family dinner table.

My whole extended family had turned out to have a Sunday meal together, as if the whole group knew the momentous realization I was about to have. We were having one of those typically existential conversations, the ones that leave people running around in circles with frustration but unbelievably excited by what they might somehow figure out—what  should we do with our lives and why should we do it?  
I was an agressively active participant in the conversation. At 16, I was more arrogant than ever, and I cringe now at how much I thought I knew. While I gesticulated professorially to the rest of the people at the table, someone broke my focus. I cannot remember which family member said this, but I will always remember what he said: “I just want to end up okay.”
Then, as if the whole universe were zeroing in on an insignificant boy at a dining room table in New Jersey, I heard my uncle respond: “You don’t end up anywhere.”
And his voice echoed in my ears.

It was not a pessimistic statement, or a fatalistic one. Instead, it spoke to something that all people instinctively know—life has no finish line, no point at which we say, “Oh, I guess I’m done.”

Life is not always a fight or a struggle, but there is also never a permanently restive state, no matter how old or experienced one becomes. In my year as an assistant editor for this section of The Heights, I have found great evidence to support the notion that no one really ends up anywhere, that lives are continuously undergoing change.

In the past year, I have written about artists and marathon bombing victims. I have written about mayoral politics and museum exhibits. I have written about comedy clubs and music festivals. It is still amazing to me that all of these compelling stories are unfolding in the city that I love. When one walks down a street in Boston, one must remember that there are thousands of such stories happening every day, like full and complete characters in the world’s most populated book.

I am honored to have told some of these stories in the past year.

So, as the year 2013 comes to a close, what have I learned? Only that, still, there is so much to learn.

If I have discovered that, then this past year is one worth celebrating.


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