Last week, Saahil Desai PO ’16 wrote an Opinions article urging Pomona College students to ask themselves why they are here, and why they have chosen to stick to the “constricting path through high school and college.” I agree with Desai’s central point: Existing complacently in the life you’ve happened upon leads to apathy and unconscious action, and truly thinking through your decisions and actions is, of course, valuable. I would like to respond to the tone of the article and to its underlying sentiment.
Somewhat despondently, Desai suggests that college is not the best way to learn. He argues that “one could easily acquire the same depth and scope of knowledge through a library and a computer” as one could get from a college education.
College isn’t for everyone. And yes, education can certainly come from places outside of institutionalized academia. But we’re not here just to go to class and absorb knowledge.
It is overwhelming and incredible to think about the sheer volume of your first year, or even first semester, of college—how many experiences, people, places, feelings, and magical moments were packed into three or four months. Consider how many people have become an integral part of your life, how many routes and rooms have become familiar, and how many abbreviations and Pomona slang words have become natural parts of your vocabulary.
Perhaps our goal is not simply to ask ourselves why we’re here at Pomona, but to challenge ourselves to recognize each moment that makes our time here—and in this world—worthwhile. We’re already here, so let’s not question that decision. We are aware of our broad, long-term goals during these four years—taking classes, earning a degree, and approaching a gateway to the real world. But we often overlook the importance of the routine moments, interactions, and people that truly comprise our lives at Pomona.
One of my favorite quotes comes from author Henry Miller: “The aim of life is to live, and to live is to be aware, joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware.”
The question “Why am I here?” should not be a forlorn plea in times of doubt, but an open-eyed, full-bodied appreciation.
I’m here to go to Pitzer brunch. To sing One Direction with 30 of my best friends while cheering for the men’s cross country team. To be roommates with the person I could be around every moment of every day and never get annoyed or frustrated. To wake up for sunrise on a camping trip and watch the sunset from the Sontag Hall rooftop garden. To eat sweet potatoes, vegetarian chili, and cookies and cream ice cream at Sunday Harvey Mudd dinners. To blast Simon & Garfunkel from a car full of sweaty backpackers as we cruise down Claremont Boulevard.
I’m here to stay up until 5:30 a.m. working on a linguistics paper with friends and to almost enjoy it. To decide to go cliff jumping on a whim. To attempt a sleepover on the Farm. To cook and eat a classy, candlelit dinner on an air hockey table in the Blaisdell lounge while speaking in a British accent. To look at the clear mountains on a day after rain. To have weekly study dates at the Motley. To pick kumquats from the bush in my professor’s backyard. To see the rosy golden light take over the trees and sides of buildings each evening.
I’m here to experience every moment I will never forget.
Why are you here?