The Cavalier Daily
Serving the University Community Since 1890

Trusting time to transform University

THE PUBLIC discourse at the University often runs itself. The leaders of one organization know the leaders of others and, very often, "the others" include the publications that students pick up everyday. Like so much at the University, this relationship between leaders and the media is a small-scale version of the real world: An elite few run the show while the rest piss and moan. Luckily, for me, I'm one of "the rest" who has a very public space to piss and moan.

At least one big muckety-muck must have put his busy day on hold for three minutes to read my rants and raves -- to figure out why I wrote a column about Critical Mass or why I was so adamantly in favor of putting in public gardens at the University. That's satisfying. It's even more satisfying when you consider that the muckety-mucks at this school come in all shapes, sizes and ideologies. They may not come in many different colors, but time will take care of that. Trust me, or at least trust time. Trusting time is the greatest lesson the University has taught me. It's also the lesson I had to fight the hardest to learn.

Nobody trusts time at this school. It all needs to be done now, because nobody wants to deal with it later. To me, time is far more trustworthy than people. People screw up and make mistakes, time doesn't -- at least not until we screw with it by devising daylight-savings and space travel.

Back to the University. The University community's lack of faith in time begs a single question, "What's the rush?" Taxes and death will find us all fast enough. Why chase them? I know, you're chasing the dollar or you're chasing social justice or you're chasing any number of things at once. The chase is admirable, but why doesn't anybody run to be the first one to class or the first one to O'Hill? Probably because it's not worth the effort. In the end, everyone gets a seat in class and everyone gets to eat. Can't these short-term lessons be applied to the long-term?

I hope so, but experience has taught me that the transition from short-term to long-term goals is difficult. Oftentimes, this transition goes by the name "delay of gratification." It's one of the things they try to teach you in kindergarten. "The cookies will taste better when they're heated" or "The paint won't stick unless you mix it up first."

If you prefer cold cookies and runny paint, the quickest way to learn about waiting is to throw yourself into the public arena. When I decided to write a column for The Cavalier Daily, I had an idealistic vision of the University community as a group of shiny, happy people. All they needed were a few gentle pushes and, in no time, they'd be holding hands around the Rotunda. I was more than happy to provide some of those gentle pushes. I was also more than happy to be a public buffoon.

Despite my best efforts, Critical Mass is still as left-wing as they wanna be and there aren't any plans in the works for a public garden. But, as Saturday Night Live's Stuart Smalley is apt to point out, that's okay. It doesn't have to happen today, tomorrow or even next week. If it's right, and people work towards it, it will happen. Whatever it is.

All that said, there's a difference between trusting time and only trusting time. Just as time brings life, it also brings death. It's our jobs as humans to work with everything in between and to ensure that we die in a better place than we were born in. That's a tough job, but somebody better do it.

Mark Twain once noted, "To do good is noble. To instruct others to do good is just as noble, and far easier." Twain was at least partially right. Writers aren't livers, they're writers. If we could really fix things, we'd fix them. We wouldn't have to tell other people how to fix them.

It's a stretch to say that I successfully lead my own life -- I could never be a student leader. University students are a little nuts and leading them would make me a lot nuts. Just being a moderately active member of the University community has made me a little nuts.

The deadlines, expectations and requirements of this publication have been the bane of my Thursdays for a little over a year. That said, the outgrowth of meeting those deadlines, expectations and requirements have been the joy of my Mondays. Whatever those outgrowths are, or will be.

Hopefully there are some outgrowths. If not, that's okay. At least I threw some stones at the brick walls that Thomas Jefferson built around this place. If nothing else, I "got my rocks off" doing it. At least I threw printed rocks instead of real ones. Propelled rocks rarely propel meaningful change. Time has taught me that.

(Chris DelGrosso's column appeared Mondays in The Cavalier Daily.)

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