The Deep Orange
They say we are the captains of our own ship.
Well, frankly, I would rather be a mermaid, especially here at
of Texas at Austin.
Dropped in the middle of this sea of faces,
I have found that what is going on below the surface is of much
more interest than the bird’s eye view of
vacant plains of rolling waves. No, indeed, the deeper waters hold the riches.
With just about four months of UT under my belt (three spent in summer school
here) learning this lesson was my first obstacle to surmount.
You see, I arrived
a sailor with stars in my eyes and dreams in my sail, ready to charter my course.
So I boarded the ship and pulled away form the dock, but
when I scrolled out my map, I jumped in horror. It was blank! I saw no islands,
no finial destinations and no prescribed course.
I had obviously falsely assumed
that along with my high school diploma and my college acceptance
that I was promised a revelation concerning the meaning
my life. Seeing that I could not discern my direction from atop my vessel,
I strapped on my oxygen tank, took a deep breath and plunged into the orange
Exhale. I have arrived at the right place
at the right time. My little eyes were filled with color and life,
the bizarre and the mundane,
for a little fish with a big appetite for exploration. That first day of class,
and everyday thereafter, has sent my imagination overflowing. Strolling through
the quad I am handed flyers and announcements printed on every color paper
there, each with information with times, explanations, elaborations and invocations
to see my world from another angle. Any interest I have ever had I can pursue
here (well, maybe not surfing, I’ll save that for another day).
With this in mind, going about this process of discovering everything there
is to know in the universe is another task completely. Well, as one of
my favorite actors, Bill Murray, advises, “Baby steps!” Julie
Andrews knows where to start, “at the very beginning.” And Ferris
Bueller knows how to do it, with charisma and humor. Robert Frost and Charlie
know how to go about feeling it, with reflection and soul. These pioneers
before me have plundered such deep waters and found great treasures. With
stars (pun intended) I aim to find treasure, too.
This man, Edward Gorey,
once said that “life is intrinsically, well, boring
and dangerous at the same time. At any given moment the floor may open
up. Of course, it almost never does; that’s what makes it so boring.”
deduced that life was boring. Well, he was living on the surface. You
see, as a little fish here at UT I learned rather quickly that
becomes “dangerous” and “exciting” in
the very deepest waters. You see, at the bottom of the ocean, the floor
does indeed open up, sending out a stream of hot water. The hot water is
like an interest
or a goal, a purpose or a force that draws together a myriad of very different
creatures. (Is it also no coincidence that the biggest well-spring of young
minds congregate in the hot oven of Texas?)
Here at UT, finding these pockets
of life is the key. The ocean is much
too vast to tackle at a glance. One must begin with one miracle at a
I suppose having no map might seem daunting
or scary. But thank God I am only a freshman. I have a little room
And after 18 years
living, I have learned that miracles happen and direction seeks us out.
On top of
we often meet those special people in our lives in the most unexpected
places at the most unexpected times. That is why it is so important to
ready and open to take the bait. (I suppose in this metaphor “taking
the bait” is
a good thing, but I don’t think too many fish would find that reference
My tale (tail) is coming to a close because
this is all I know so far. I am not sure if I am way over my head,
okay because mermaids can breathe under water.
I clutch to the golden
words of J.R.R. Tolkien, “Not all who wander are
I have much exploring under the orange sea
before I can take to the blue sky. More sagas to follow.