We live in a fast world — a fast country. As college students, we all have grown up in the same era, one of rapid growth. We have witnessed incredible discoveries and innovations, but sometimes they seem to be new for the sake of being new. Rarely has this age slowed down to admire its progress. Satisfaction is becoming harder and harder to grasp or hold on to. Our country has swept up its citizens in this wave of advancement. Some cruise willingly, letting the wave carry them on. Others thrash, grow tired, and submit. While being carried along, there is exposure to a rush of ideas and developments. Things are built to last, but they don’t because satisfaction is soon lost. If the wave ever slows, we float in discomfort, having almost enough time to realize where we are.
If we’re not moving fast, are we moving at all? Soon the contentment of being a passive rider diminishes. We are inspired, or maybe pressured to rush ahead, using the wake of the wave to reach the front of the group. It isn’t easy to maintain a lead in the great American race before being overcome or dragged back. What is the point of riding the wave if we aren’t in the front? The crashing and tumbling of the wave overwhelm us, putting us in a state of confusion. To some it’s unbearable, but there seems to be no solution.
This is not just a wave. This is a riptide, relentless and powerful. It is not taking us to land, just vast ocean, with too much to comprehend. To break out of a riptide, one must swim laterally.
It isn’t easy to stop and assess one’s situation when one is being swept away. The unaware might strain and struggle until fatigue overcomes. It’s counterintuitive to remain calm in a state of frenzy. Swimming laterally does not fight the current. It is not about outthinking the situation, but thinking differently.
In life, swimming laterally unveils a sense of appreciation. Soon one embraces the process, then admires the progress.
Once out of the riptide, one can begin to swim to the shore. It’s hard to remember what waits on the shore, but it is a destination, dry land. One’s consciousness remembers that it is good. When swimming, the waves provide some assistance, but each stroke has meaning.
Each stroke is an exertion of the body to reach the destination. Each stroke provides gratification, a sense of still moves forward, now conscious that the ability to move forward is fueled by a culmination of the past.
The journey to the shore is no longer like the race to the ocean. It is patient and reflective. Instinct regains its importance. Identity and personality are reformed, again using the past to help us understand.
As college students at Eastern Mennonite University, this is a time, an environment, to begin to swim laterally. The mind, spirit, and body are all in a state of growth leading to the person we might be in the future. Planning for the future is not only about picking a career, but finding our unique traits, exploring our minds, becoming an individual.
It is tiring to swim unassisted. Discomfort is inevitable, but a sign of growth. As the year advances, stress builds and the confusion becomes overwhelming, remember to remain calm. Swim laterally.