Archive for March, 2010

From the Archives: “For Good”

March 3, 2010

I wrote this just before I left the University of Washington, after spending four years there as an undergraduate.  It was there that I began to kick around the idea that perhaps life isn’t always about seeking happiness.  That perhaps the fullness of your life and your experience is what is more important.

Written Saturday, June 9th, 2007

For Good

This looks like it will be the last post I make in Washington for a long time.  We all graduated today in the cold and the wet; a perfect Seattle send-off for the class of 2007.  I won’t deny that going home to San Francisco is making me a little sad.  I suppose that whenever any chapter of your life comes to a close, that is to be expected.  All the same, knowing that I’m never going to be a college undergraduate again is a sobering thought, conjuring up images of middle age and laugh lines.  Everyone looks forward to college (or back upon it), saying that these will be (or have been) the best four years of their life, that this is the time when you will have the greatest freedom with the least responsibility.

For me, to a certain degree I came to the University of Washington with the (albeit embryonic) purpose of making it into medical school.  There was a point when I decided that was what I wanted to do, and that would be my top priority.  Social life, extra curricular activities, heck, even leaving the U-district were all generally subordinated to that purpose.  Reflecting now on that decision, I’m not unhappy that I made it . . . but I do wonder whether or not that was the best choice.  After all, you only get one life, and so it behooves us to make the most of it before it passes us by.

But that is not to say that I haven’t had good social outings, made good friends or had amazing experiences.  I have done all these things, and I know that I am happier for them.  We’ve played hide and go seek in the dark in the common room on L2, we’ve gone to Discovery Park and Gasworks, we’ve gone sailing, played sports, went to parties together.  We’ve laughed, cried, studied, worked, played, lived and loved protected and supported by each other’s friendship.  One would think that these memories would be enough to make one happy, and believe me they do . . . but in characteristic [me]-fashion, I wonder if it’s been enough.

College has really changed me, and I don’t really know if it’s been for the better or for the worse.  I got to strike out on my own, arriving in Seattle knowing nearly no one, and now I know I will drive home with tears in my eyes for the people that I will be leaving behind.  All I need to do is walk around campus, and the memories of times both good and bad come rushing back; I remember cuddling on a warm night over here, or dispiritedly sitting with my head in my hands on the bench over there.  This place and these people have been my world for the last four years.  This place has seen me both as the happiest man alive, as well as so low I thought no one here would care if I simply fell off the earth. The times I have spent here certainly have been ambiguous, but one thing is to be certain though; in the years that I have been here, I have lived.

Maybe that is all I can really ask of a place or time in my existence.  These years have probably seen the single most happy moments, as well as the most sustained sad times of my life.  I cannot leave here and say in full honesty that I have loved my years here, but maybe that is not entirely a bad thing.  Life after all is made up of both good and bad, and perhaps living means experiencing both and everything in between.  I’ve gotten the feeling that life is more than climbing into an Orgasmitron of perpetual bliss, and that the real living happens just as much while you are riding a high as you are while slogging it through a low.

If this is the case then, then my time living and learning here in Seattle has been well spent.  I would like to take a moment to thank you, UW for your acquaintance; for the people you have introduced to me, and the challenges and emotional blows you have dealt me.  These years have not been wanting for it’s ups and downs, and for that I think I should be grateful.

And thank you too, all the amazing people that I have been able to meet here, even if I’ve only known you for four weeks or the entire four years.  You, perhaps even more than the University have changed me as a person; you have taught me many lessons, many of which I suspect I won’t know I have learned or won’t fully appreciate until many years from now.  I cannot say that these four years have been the best of my life, but I can promise you that that I have certainly lived during them, and for that I am grateful.  Take care all of you, good luck, and best wishes to you all on whatever path it is you choose to walk.  I am so happy and privileged to have been able to meet you, and it is without reservation that I say I will shed tears for our parting on the drive home.

Life, I think, is not just all about the good times, it is about the bad times as well.  I have seen my fair share of both here, and so it is with a heavy heart that I walk away from the life I have lead at the University of Washington.


“It well may be
That we will never meet again
In this lifetime,
So let me say before we part
So much of me
Is made of what I learned from you
You’ll be with me
Like a handprint on my heart.
And now whatever way our stories end
I know you have re-written mine
By being my friend . . .

Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better?
But because I knew you
I have been changed for good.”