The Deceiving Speed of an Eternity of emories

By Chris Kramme

“For time is the longest distance between two places,” wrote Tennessee Williams in “The Glass Menagerie.” It seems like ages ago that I first set foot on the Georgetown campus. It seems like yesterday. Time is a funny thing. Clocks and calendars divide it neatly into carefully demarcated parcels by which we feebly attempt to mark the progression of that which can never be quantified, demarcated or measured. Our life measured in calendar years means nothing. We seem to have two times – one external, the other internal. Four years means nothing to our internal sense of time. In this world, time is measured by the amount of life we put into it.

As a child, I never believed my parents and other adults who repeated the mantra of how fast time passes when you get older. I was right, but so were they. It’s not time that moves faster – it’s life. So far, my life seems to have blown by. That’s okay. Anyone who says his or her life hasn’t blown by hasn’t really lived it. As a child, I thought my hours spent with Legos were going to turn into a career as an architect. Fifteen years later I’m going to be a banker in Paris. We never quite know how things are going to end up. That’s okay. It makes life more interesting.

In the end, life is really nothing more than a series of choices. Oddly enough, though, when we make those choices they really don’t seem that important. One of my first days at Georgetown, a friend from my high school dragged me up to The Hoya for an open house. It was a rainy day and I really had no interest in attending. My newspaper career in high school had been short-lived, and had been neither successful nor rewarding. I started writing a few stories and quickly got sucked in to what would be one of the best experiences of my college career. I loved the challenges, the intensity, the escape from academia. There’s something very real about working on a newspaper. You work to the point of exhaustion and see the tangible result a few hours later. It’s a sense of satisfaction I’ve never received from academic work.

The Hoya has come a long ways in the past four years and I’m glad I could be a part of that. My thanks go out to all those with whom I’ve worked. Particularly on the business side of things this year, I think we’ve made a great deal of progress toward making The Hoya a truly professional organization. To those who will lead in the next years, don’t forget where the newspaper has been, but I hope I can look back a few years from now and complain about how things aren’t the way they used to be. I had a driver’s ed teacher in high school who said you should keep your eyes on the road ahead 85 percent of the time, on the rearview mirror 10 percent of the time and on the speedometer 5 percent. (I’ll let you think of a metaphorical interpretation for the speedometer on your own.) That’s the way it should be.

When I received my acceptance letter from Georgetown, University President Leo J. O’Donovan, S.J. wrote that Georgetown sought not only to provide an academic formation, but also to educate the “whole person.” Four years later I’m not sure of the extent to which Georgetown has met that goal, but I do know that I have learned many valuable lessons on my own. Most of us here at Georgetown have been extraordinarily blessed in our lives and it’s important to remember that. Never lose sight of the world around you and never lose perspective on your place in that world. What we do is never as important as we think it is, and we’re never as important as we think we are.

I was sitting around a campfire in the middle of the Sahara last year with a Bedouin trader who said, “You know the problem with your society is that you never take time to really think.” Every once in a while, take a step back from daily life. Think about nothing. Think about everything. Too many people go through their lives as if going down a road that runs through nothing – running on cruise control to the end of monotony. If you don’t look around, you might miss something; you might miss everything.

Keep life interesting. Every once in a while do something crazy _ the crazy things are always the most memorable. Make sure to study abroad, and travel as much as you can. The only way to understand yourself and your society is to come to an understanding of others and their societies. Get as much out of your education as you can – you only do this once. Get as much out of your social life as you can – you only do this once. Then go down to the Mall or along the Potomac on a sunny day and just lie there for an afternoon – it’s a great way to recover.

Get to know some of your professors. They can be a wonderful resource, both academically and personally. I have had several at Georgetown who really stood out. In-Ku Marshall was like a mother to us all when I was in her Korean class. Howard Spendelow’s attention to detail is what got me through my thesis. Alan Tansman’s laid-back nature and intellectual creativity were both refreshing and illuminating. George Viksnins put a human touch on economics and genuinely cared about his students. Finally, Ibrahim Oweiss has been a tremendous source of knowledge and advice, and has been a wonderful teacher and friend.

Since my parents are probably the only ones to read this far, I’ll take this opportunity to thank them for all their support over these past four years: Without you, I would never be where I am or who I am today. As for my sister, Maria (COL ’02): I can’t begin to say how great it’s been to have you here this year. I hope your time at Georgetown can be as great as mine has been.

In a few weeks, I’ll walk across a stage and receive a diploma. In the space of a few seconds, in the length of a few feet, one part of my life will end and another will begin. I’ll have fond memories of my time at Georgetown, but I won’t regret leaving. The time has come to move on, and I’ve had a lot of life in four years.

Chris Kramme is a former senior news editor, editorial page editor, contributing editor, and chairman of the board of directors for The Hoya.

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