Truth Universally Acknowledged

November 25, 2010

Wednesday Words: Narnia

Filed under: Uncategorized — mboesl @ 7:01 am

So, this post is rather different because it comes not from the peaceful and quiet dorm room in Timothy Dwight college, but in my boisterous home, plagued and bothered by sisters and parents. Simply because I am in the habit of writing, I figure I ought to continue.

Flights home were generally flawless, no friendly pat-downs or full body scans. Only one random passenger,¬†after no previous interaction,¬†asked me mid-flight if I wanted a cookie , an awkward situation that was easily enough avoided by a quick response of, “N-no, I’m actually doing just fine in my cookie-less state, and your nerve of asking me goes against all the social norms I have ever learned, such as a) Don’t talk to strangers b) Don’t take cookies from strangers c) Perhaps get to know someone before offering cookies to them, you crazy psycopath.” Well, I would have liked to say all that, but more accurately mumbled some little response to the effect that my airline provided cranberry juice sufficiently fulfilled my culinary requirements. Whew.

The kitchen has been ablaze with action, as my mother has cooked up all manner of apple crisps, turkeys, green beans, cheesecakes, etc, etc all in preparation of tomorrow’s feast. Something about home cooking that is just so wonderfully superior to anything the cafeteria can conjure up. Maybe it’s the lack of tofu in every dish, or the patience and attention to detail, such as not burning things, and avoiding over-salting the oatmeal.

Important things that have changed in my town since I left (that I have noticed): 1 pizza parlor burned, with extensive smoke damage. McKays Price and Pride Freshmart got new doors on its entrance. A new seafood place opened on the docks… Um, yeah…

There is a fantastic scene at the end of the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe as the Pevensie children, having spent over 30 years at the supreme rulers of Narnia, end up falling out of the wardrobe back into England. It turns out that, in the time of this world, they have really not been gone that long at all.

This is what I feel like, while away at school, life drags on, you change as the world changes around you, new relationships are built, new thoughts emerge. It is a grand and awesome adventure. However, upon returning home, I sort of feel like I am crashing through that wardrobe, through all those fur coats, to a place and a family that is not much different than when I left, and the Professor is still walking up those wooden stairs. Not that anything is unusual or bad, just different. As the Beatles musically crooned: “Life goes on within you and without you.” What a succinct way to put a profound idea. You change and grow with the seasons, but things still go on without you. The point at which those meet can sometimes be rather jarring, but also incredibly exciting. Before long, I will be back in the wardrobe, off an a new adventure, but it is always nice to know that regardless of what happens, I can always come back to my family and the same love and care there has always been.

Now that’s something to be thankful about.



November 18, 2010

Wednesday Words: Thanksgiving Edition

Filed under: Uncategorized — mboesl @ 5:14 am

So dinner tonight involved turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, stuffing and pumpkin pie, a carb-loaded reminder of the upcoming season. Not that much of a reminder was needed. After 12 weeks with not a single day off of class, most everyone is eagerly staggering towards this Friday, yours truly included as well, however, I am allocating a few moments here to enlighten the interested masses about the happenings in my life.

I was fortunate enough to attend a lecture on Monday, given by Gen. Stanley McChrystal, a former 4 star general who is now teaching at Yale. His discussion topic was Leadership, and hearing wisdom from a man who has led a lot of people, watched a lot of people lead and made plenty of mistakes was incredibly fascinating. I think I will share one thing he mentioned: “So after I got this teaching gig at Yale, one of my Ranger buddies called me up and asked, “Hey Boss, how ya doin?'” I said I was doing well and was going be at Yale. A long pause ensued, and my buddy responded, “Hey Boss, you know we’ve got people in the right places and can bust you out of of there if…” No, I responded, not Jail, Yale, a university in Connecticut. Another long pause ensued. After a while, the voice on the other end of the line said, “Well boss, I think we could bust you out of there, too.”‘

“I’m keeping that offer in my back pocket,” said McCrystal.

A slightly dubious music video was produced by the inhabitants of my suite, it still needs a great deal of refining, but we are very confident a recording studio will pick us up soon. MTV here we come.

On Friday I leave for Boston, trading the warm, sunny, and peaceful streets of New Haven, CT, for the the dark, grimy and rat infested hovel of a town called Cambridge, Mass. Both Glee Club and Spizzwinks(?) have concerts on Friday evening, and then I get to fly out of Boston, to go home for a week. How exciting.


This time of year, the word of the hour seems to be “Return.” Daylight savings returns our clocks to what they were before we “sprang forward.” The nutrients in the leaves return to the ground from whence they came. During the celebration of Thanksgiving, we return to thinking about what is important in life, and in a very physical sense, one returns home for the holidays. This is all part of the grand progression we call life. The Israelites set up monuments to which they returned after crossing the Jordan to remind themselves of their past. We write and read books and create and view art that reminds us of the human experience in past years.

The idea of a return has two major inherent ideas, a) There was an original starting point b) We are no longer there. That to which we return is a place of belonging, of purpose of meaning. Our roots. Our history. Our place. Our way of understanding ourselves. Yet, as we return to these thoughts and to our families, there is also a very real sense in which we also have the thoughts of our own future in mind. So in this time of Thanksgiving, when criss-crossing flights wind their way across the nation, and we return to our home bodily, let us also remember that legacy to which we are returning and ponder how we can use it to impact our future.

It might be a nice thought.



November 11, 2010

Wednesday Words: Early Thursday Morning edition

Filed under: Uncategorized — mboesl @ 5:58 am

As I sit in the solitude of my room, a chemistry problem set lies before me, as does a lab report, but that can all wait, I suppose. What matters is that I get this blog post out. Some updates:

-My suitemate ordered 700 Vuvuzelas, set to arrive on Monday, seriously. They are supposed to be sold for the Harvard-Yale game. I have two main concerns: 1) Will he be able to break even, and, more pressing 2) will I be able to get out of the door with 700 Vuvuzelas in the way?

Rittersport was dispersed in my German class on Friday. As if Kant and Kafka weren’t good enough reasons to study the language.

-Music Theory Professor excited exclaims, “The cadential six-four chord is really where it’s at.” No, actually, Professor, I don’t think so. While the cadential six-four is fabulous, for those outside your field, there are much better ways to spend one’s time.

-Also overheard in Chemistry class: (With regards to Extreme Dipole-Dipole bonding involving Hydrogen): “If there were x-games of intermolecular bonding, this would be your molecule.” Wow, that’s cool. Glad I learned that. I just found a bunch of molecular trading cards, too.

– Thanksgiving break is coming soon. The only thing between me and a wonderful break is the fact that finals come afterwards. Oh well, maybe I can drown my sorrows in Gravy and Cranberry sauce.

Brief thought: One of the main classroom buildings on campus, WLH Hall, is built in throwback gothic architecture. On one side of its grimy exterior is a clock, its hands constantly stuck at 11:55, never moving, the hands of this weary timepiece stand as a contrast to the thousands of us milling about below, making sure we get to class on time, or out of class on time. erhaps it is an oversight, but it sometimes serves to remind me that this concept of hours and minutes, months and years are all arbitrary distinctions. What does 7:00 p.m. November 12 mean, really? Yet, throughout history we have constructed vast memorials to this concept, huge towers or pyramids, and wear it on our wrist.

I’ve always thought that someone not from a culture dominated by time somehow externally watching a classroom would be baffled. 20 people come in with in a span of five minutes or so, one gets up and talks for a while, and then they all leave. Very odd. Yet so often, we run from place to place, so busy with our lives and appointments, scheduling and punctuality, that we miss those wonderful interactions that come when we stop to take the time to make eye contact, smile, perhaps even exchange a few words, much less spend time actually getting to know another human being.

T.S. Eliot paints this image of people walking about their business alone and unfeeling in The Wasteland

Unreal City,
Under the brown fog of a winter dawn,
A crowd flowed over London Bridge, so many,
I had not thought death had undone so many.
Sighs, short and infrequent, were exhaled,
And each man fixed his eyes before his feet.

This image is familiar to those of us who have spent any time in a large metropolitan area in any sense, as our isolating cars, quick steps, and speeding jets take us to our desired location as fast as possible.

Obviously our concept of time is not going anywhere. But perhaps we should learn a lesson from that stopped clock on top of WLH, and take a moment to consider, in the midst of our rush, whether we are ending up empty and unfulfilled. Perhaps we are sacrificing our gregariousness and mutual understanding on the altar of business and achievement.

Is it worth it?




P.S. Yes, this whole thing about time was just a way to give an excuse for posting this an hour late. Whatever. It’s still true.

November 4, 2010

Wednesday words: Running

Filed under: Uncategorized — mboesl @ 3:11 am

My run today was gorgeous; the late afternoon sun was slowly waning, leaving the shimmering fall leaves in brilliantly beautiful lighting. As I ran through a trail around the lake to the north of campus, a flock of seven or so canadian geese took flight, lightly skimming over the water. The stillness of the chill autumn air was broken only by the occasional flutter of leaves as a squirrel or two scurried around under a tree, making last minute preparations for the winter. It was an incredibly serene scene, the peace and stillness pervasive except for my rhythmic breathing and the occasional sound of my foot striking the path.

Because, you see, there was a path. I avoided the asphalt road for two reasons 1) The path was much prettier 2) The likelihood of me getting hit by a car decreased dramatically. The trail was not fancy, nor large, nor elaborate , but a simple footpath, worn out by hundreds of feet shuffling, walking, skipping, jogging and running along its surface. Instead of having to cut through the brush, avoid rocks and dodge between trees, I only had to follow what was already lined out for me, the steps of those who had gone before.

Every day at Yale, I walk by buildings named after influential people from Yale’s past; names such as Lindsey-Chittendon Hall, Woolsey Hall and Sterling Library and others belie their heritage. After a bit of reflection I realize that the daily steps I take into the library, across Cross Campus and past the President’s house were the same steps individuals regularly took throughout America’s past. People as varied in their influence as Eli Whitney and Samuel Morse, Jonathan Edwards and Cole Porter, George Bush and William Taft. Obviously, in a physical sense, perhaps, they walked, padding down the soil for many of the places we walked (especially Taft), left their legacies in the buildings they may have occupied. But also in a a very real metaphorical sense, they are the people who shaped our world into what it is today. Broadening further, this applies obviously not only to Yale, or any institution for that matter, but to the heritage of our parents and grandparents, who have grooved out the path we will follow, removing some of the rocks that could hurt us, or at least, letting us see those rocks more clearly, in the hopes of avoiding them.

As I was running, I also thought about my brief time on that trail. I was thankful for those who had gone before and made it a little easier to get through, a little less time focused on the ground and a little more looking at the beauty of the day. Perhaps my role in hardening the path was limited, a few footfalls, no more. But as I wound my way back home, I felt an odd connection with those who had gone before me on that trail and those who were yet to come, in thankfulness for the one, hope for the other.

Somehow, it was strangely comforting.

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