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26 September 2005

The Beginning

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”

—Confucius

“Deep in the heart of Texas hidden amid the tumbleweeds and twang and the oil refineries and rolling hills is a city that emanates an offbeat tempo of tastes, people, and sounds….”

For centuries many have pondered the meaning of life, trying to give clarity to the ephemeral, to mold the shifting sands of life into something concrete and definable. Life, for some, is about making the right choices, or rather, lack thereof. Controversial English literary critic Cyril Connolly defines life as “a maze in which we take the wrong turn before we have learnt to walk.” For those who are directionally impaired like me, this isn’t good news. Others define life in terms of food. Tom Hanks, in the movie “Forrest Gump,” reminds us that “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.” Personally, as a self-proclaimed chocoholic, chocolate is all the same to me and besides, any reference to food will just make me hungry. And finally, who can forget the famous lines in the play “As You Like It,” where Shakespeare writes that “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.” Now, if what he writes is true, and that life is a stage, then it seems I’ve been suffering a lifetime’s worth of stage fright.

Despite all the varying definitions of life, they all come to the same conclusion. Life has no answers, no definition and no sense of clarity. Life is what you make it and is worth only how much you put in. Perhaps that is the reason that as I write this first entry of my Web journal, I can’t help but to think that life is a melody, composed of varying notes produced by the actions we take. At times our notes are harmonious, a sense of euphony created by feelings of content in our lives. But this sense of contentment is often fleeting, followed by clashing cacophonous notes that jar our sense of harmony out of existence. Most often life is like this. But it is when these notes are combined, harmonious and inharmonious, that the slow syncopated tune that gives meaning to the song of life is created.

“As eclectic as the music that originates from the capital city of Austin, its citizens are peculiar and unique, embracing the unusual while maintaining the reputation of being able to ‘keep it cool’  like residents in no other city in Texas….”

The night before I left to go to Austin, the place that would be my home away from home for the next several months, I stayed up packing. I should have gone to sleep, since we were leaving at 3 a.m. in order to beat the moving-in rush and still make it in time for my scheduled time allotment. Blame it on my tendency to procrastinate, or my indecisiveness when it came to packing, or just my complete lack of preparedness, but two hours before I was supposed to leave, I still had not finished packing. I think part of me wanted to take my time, to slowly gather and retain images of home, to breathe in its distinct smell for the last time. To me, that act of packing finalized what I already understood, that I was about to say goodbye to everything that I knew, to the very things that had been a large part of my life, and somewhere deep inside hidden among the excitement of beginning my life in college, a small part of me wanted to stay, to snuggle in the comfort and familiarity of my own bed. A small part of me did not want to take the first step forward and face the world of adulthood, of responsibility, of financial independence, of making my own choices.

“The magic of Austin seeps through the walls of the university, infusing the students with the spirit of innovation and spontaneity that permeates the city. As an incoming freshman my prospects are limitless, restricted only by the breadth of my dreams and the strength of my will….”                                 

Looking back at the feelings of apprehension that pervaded my thoughts, I’ve come to the realization that they were misplaced. In the short time that I have lived in Austin, it has become my second home. Every day I revel in wonder at how much UT has to offer and at what I have to offer UT. There is never a shortage of things to do. Each day is an adventure. Whether it is the trek across campus to my next class, dodging the perils of bikers speeding across campus or resisting the culinary temptations offered by food vendors along my journey, or the simple task of stepping outside my zone of comfort to meet new people and ultimately make new friends. Speaking of friends, in the short time that I have lived in Austin, I have met so many remarkable people who constantly amaze me with their intelligence, talent, wit and personality, people who have also shared my trepidations, but had the courage to face them.

“As I continue the journey of intellectual discovery, I look forward to making my own beat, adding to the amalgamation of inimitable rhythms. Like a slow syncopated tune, my expectations are accented with feelings of apprehension, hesitation and fear. A cacophony of emotions tugs at my soul, but these feelings can’t break the steady cadence of my beating heart….”

Walking amid the undulating sea of faces, I can’t at times help but feel lost, but like a shining beacon of hope, I remember my own beat, my own purpose, and slowly, but with a deep sense of certainty, I allow myself to join in harmony the unique melody of the university. And as the pulse of my rhythm finds its pace, I can’t help but feel a sense of contentment, as UT becomes my home away from home, my friends becoming part of my family.

“As I push on pulsing with excitement and hope, I face the beginning of my journey as a college freshman with a sense of wonder of the different people I will meet, of the person I will become  and of the infinite possibilities that await me.

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