Small things

Fourth-year urges peers to enjoy remaining semester

I walked into El Jaripeo for a casual Sunday dinner with my roommate this weekend, and I suddenly found myself at what appeared to be headquarters for sorority life. Everywhere I looked, I saw sorority girls in Barbour jackets chatting about girls’ bid day and their new babies while eating chips and chugging margaritas. Boy, could they drink. I thought about leaving, but I really, really wanted some chimichangas.

They seemed like they didn’t have a care in the world; they were just glad to be in each other’s company and to enjoy a nice evening. They weren’t thinking about which classes they had the following day, the meetings they had that week, or job and internship applications. And then I realized that neither did I ­— like them I was taking time away from school and thoughts of the future to enjoy a night out.

In years past, I never would have taken time out of my Sunday to go out for dinner, but I have realized that I have my whole life to worry about work and my career prospects. The next 108 days until Final Exercises — sorry for the reminder, but it’s coming — are an important opportunity, and I’m going to spend time enjoying those around me.

The other day I called my parents, who are currently lounging on a beach in Chile. My dad told me they were having the time of their lives, seeing family members who they haven’t seen in years, eating like kings and enjoying an escape from the typical humdrum of their daily lives.

Hearing about long lost friendships beginning anew reminded me of the powerful impact of small details and seemingly trivial events, but most importantly it reminded me of cards.

When I was younger, I used to play cards with my grandmother. She lived with us and was pretty much my around-the-clock babysitter, Spanish tutor, and life coach — teaching my how to work in the kitchen and how to be an upstanding person. I always turned to my grandmother, and she always told me that if I put my mind to something I could succeed. She believed in my dreams, and it made me believe in myself.

In early 2004, my grandmother was diagnosed with cancer. She received chemotherapy and practically every other treatment available. Her cancer went into remission, but unfortunately the following summer, right before I entered high school, she passed away. It has been almost eight years now, and yet I still remember to this day her reminding me to be myself and enjoy life.
So this is my message to you all.

Don’t take anything for granted. Life is so fragile and unpredictable. We shouldn’t be spending our time trying to make sense out of it, but rather spending it with people we love and who love us back. My grandmother would have turned 83 yesterday, and I regularly wish she hadn’t gotten sick and I had more time with her. I never the less appreciate all the times that I had with her, because I look back on them and smile.

Call your parents, and tell them you love them. Do something nice for your sibling, no matter how many times they punched you growing up. Reach out to a friend you have fallen out of touch with, and see what happens. Don’t get bogged down with petty arguments or difficult schoolwork. Be real with yourself and with others, because nobody has time for fakeness. Remember the small things, and just go out and live.

Al’s column runs biweekly Wednesdays. He can be reached at

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