On Being and Doing at Vanderbilt

In talking to people about Scotland, I often mention the difference in pace; it seems that life here is a pace or three slower than at Vanderbilt. At least mine has been. It has given me time to reflect on my own pace, and that reflection hasn’t been particularly pleasant. I sent something like what follows to my Ingram Scholar friends, and got such a positive reaction I thought I’d share it.

Vanderbilt University is an incredibly high-pressure place. We Vandykids have mastered “doing things.” And to borrow a biblical phrase, I am “the worst of sinners” in this regard. We run and do and fight and campaign and study and work and party and go go go but when we live life without commas we hardly have time to breathe or swallow much less reflect on what we’re doing or have time for the people around us who,

by the way,

need us.

How many people at Vanderbilt are anorexic? Or depressed? How many real conversations, in which someone has the chance to truly unload themselves, have you had in the last month? That late-night-to-early-morning deepening of relationships doesn’t
fit on a resume or earn a merit badge anywhere, but if there’s one
thing I regret from my first two years at Vanderbilt, it’s not letting enough of you guys tell me about your relationship with your parents, or about your real fears and insecurities, or what really impassions you.

So my real goal when I come back to campus in the fall is to – finally – breathe. To watch a few football games, take a few walks, and have some conversations about nothing. To give myself space to breathe and think and have time for the people around me. To make sure that you know that even in my whirlwind of activities, that I have all the time in the world to talk about what you care about. Hold me to it.

2 Replies to “On Being and Doing at Vanderbilt”

  1. Hey Mark!

    Hope you’rnjoying yourselfÑsounds as if you are.

    Having been abroad myself, I can reaffirm the change of pace and how different life seems when you can take a step back and breathe. Coming back this semester has been the most difficult transition of my life, but I feel as if it prompts you to re-evaluate what truly is important and adjust your time accordingly. As the result of being abroad, I do now have those deep conversations with my friends about family, religion, politics and whatnot. Difficult to balanceÑyesÑbut worthwhileÑyou’d better believe it.

    Enjoy the slow pace while it lasts. You may not be able to maintain that pace upon return, but you can at take a better stab at enjoying more breaks.

  2. hey man, i read this post and it really resonated with my experience. i appreciated your honesty as well as your fluidity of writing and consise-ness. in fact, this whole idea of being and doing related so much to what i’ve been thinking lately that i took it up in my own (admittedly more long-winded) words on my xanga. feel free to check it out, i’d appreciate your input. my page is http://www.xanga.com/mmmsssmmm. you the man!

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