The zero lessons I learned getting pooped on by a bird

Not all adversity teaches you something

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Learning from adversity is an archetypal part of the college experience. As graduation speaker after graduation speaker will tell you, challenges are more than just setbacks. They are lessons to be learned and obstacles to strengthen our character and ability. Hurdles we will one day share with our grandchildren when asked how we achieved such resounding success. Considering the sheer number of speeches on the subject, you’d think any form of bad luck is really just a perfect opportunity in disguise — a blessing from the universe to help you blossom into a healthier, more experienced version of yourself.

As a minor deity in bad luck, I’m perhaps overly-familiar with this silver-linings philosophy. Since the start of first year, I’ve done my best to gain something from each of the many setbacks I’ve faced. Indeed, practically all the articles I’ve published at The Cavalier Daily focus on finding a lesson or moral in a bad situation. After all, what’s the point of adversity other than to learn something new?

Well, as it turns out, sometimes adversity has no point. Sometimes you learn nothing.

Sometimes, life just sucks.

I first encountered this moral-impervious super-adversity two weeks ago during a routine walk from my dorm to the Corner. Nothing about the day leading up to the event was special. The location, the atmosphere, the temperature — nothing stands out when I think back to the moments right before everything changed. I wasn’t doing anything differently or acting in a way that would draw attention to myself, yet like an iron rod in a field, my bad luck summoned an impossible lightning bolt of misfortune from above.

A bird pooped on my head.

I’m not quite sure if I can put into words what being hit in the face by semi-digested excrement moving at sixty miles per hour feels like. Even now, looking back on the experience weeks later, I still have trouble accepting it even happened in the first place. Although it might not be scientific, I keep a subconscious list of rules for how reality should function. A straightforward catalog of things which are and are not possible. I knew that — theoretically — it’s conceivable within the confines of the material universe to be pooped on by a bird. Still, getting a mouthful of nitrogenous waste from the heavens seemed too horrible to actually ever happen.

Horror. Panic. Disgust. The moment the frothy goo splattered my face, I went into panic mode. Revulsion flooded my thoughts from the deepest corner of my lizard brain. Not thinking, I tried to wipe off the nitrogenous waste with my bare hands and only succeeded in spreading the damage over a wider area. I had no idea what to do. I was a 10-minute walk away from any bathroom, and I couldn’t even see the culprit who had cursed me from on-high. It was like I had fallen into a new, terrible reality of suffering with no way to escape.

For the longest time, I stood frozen in place. The excrement ran down my shirt like someone had cracked a runny egg over my head. Then — all at once — my disgust over the situation overpowered my indecision and I bolted off towards the Corner. Other students stared as I ran past, but I kept sprinting, barely in control of my actions. With one last push, I barged into 1515 and ran straight to the bathroom. After an eternity of rinsing, I left the building water-logged, uncomfortable and furious at the universe.

If this article was a graduation speech, now would be the part where I tell you what my experience taught me. Where I share the grand silver-lining I gained from my hardship. Well — as you might have already guessed — I don’t have one. The bird which beleaguered me was a creature of hate and madness, and my terrible misadventure could therefore only fill me with hate and madness in return.

Still, in a way, I’m glad to finally have a part of my college experience I can loath with every fiber of my being. Often the adversity I face is somehow tied to my own shortcomings. As horrible as the experience was, having a random act of nature to get mad at without any self-blame is somewhat refreshing.

Being a better person, writing an essay in advance, keeping my room clean — none of this would have caused the bird to spare me. No amount of self-reflection will yield some grand lesson from the experience, and in the end, I think I’m okay with that. After all, trying to find the moral in everything is exhausting. Basking in retrospective hatred — as it turns out — is much more fun.

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