Upon first arriving at my dorm, I was, to say the least, underwhelmed. The room was cluttered with cobwebs and the must of estival inoccupancy. Worst of all—as if one was not bad enough—I had two roommates.
But I was cautiously optimistic. My roommates were nice, and my attic-like single with its sloping roof, beamed ceiling and crawlspace-qua-closet imbued my room with a certain idiosyncrasy.
That was until that night, when any efforts to close and lock the door were confounded. I have two theories that explain this. The first is that the outmoded architecture of a century-old building is bound to falter occasionally. The second is that this is a sign from the universe, a heavenly mandate that will provide a template for the next four years of my life.
Clearly, the theory more grounded in reality is the latter. So what exactly could it mean? It only takes a draft of wind for the door to fling open. The world outside beckons. Perhaps it is a sign that I should not barricade myself in the dark, sweltering abyss that is my room. The hallway pleads silently with me to be bold and venture out into the yet unexplored.
This must mean my leaky roof is also a sign from the universe. When the little droplets hammering down on the floor awoke me, I was sure I had been cursed. But I see now that I was being naive.
After all, what is water if not life? We drink water to survive. Without rain, flowers would not bloom, and the earth would be dry and dead. Human civilization as we know it was built on the banks of big rivers. Most importantly, up to 60 percent of the human body is water.
Is that what the raindrops trickling through some crack in my ceiling are? Symbols of the life around me? Life is endemic here, yet I avoid it. I am too introverted to chat with my peers before class, too shy to visit my professors during office hours, too proud to ask where the library exit is and too busy for a relaxing stroll through the arb.
When it rains, the very essence of life trickles into my room. Perhaps this means the life around welcomes interaction. Maybe my peers would relate to my exasperation with the mosquito plague. Maybe my professor would happily explain what “Bølling-Allerød” means. Would anyone realistically refuse to help me escape the Libe’s labyrinthine shelves? What is the arb for if not to be explored and admired?
This is the most logical conclusion to which I could have come. The universe has embedded metaphors in my life in order to reveal some deep truths. So what do the ants represent?
I only saw a couple of ants, but one in particular caught my attention. As it crawled across my notebook (I like to think it was reading my notes on nominal GDP), I realized that this ant on its own was not cause for panic, but for the fact that it heralded a colony’s full-scale invasion of my dorm. And at that moment, I saw in that ant the metaphor to end all metaphors: I saw myself in the ant.
Like the ant, I am part of a colony of sorts: the Carleton community. Each and every one of my actions isn’t taken in a vacuum. They affect everyone, from my roommates to my peers to my professors.
The ant only exists (like thousands of others) as a drone to serve an indifferent queen. I, however, can forge a niche for myself based on my personality and passions. To do that, I must do more than shutter myself in my room.
I know it, the universe knows it, the puppet master of my life knows it: there’re people to be met, clubs to be joined, sports to be played, academic assistance to be sought, cookies to be baked, trails to be scouted, trees to be climbed and a bustling town to be frequented. And I can not wait to do so.