In the James Dickson Carr Library (formerly known as the Kilmer Library), studying students come and go on the second-floor. Flowing rotations of students ascend the stairs, stay for some time, and later descend to the lower levels. While here, they occupy wooden carrels and vacant spaces with seating; they read, highlight, write, and type. There is a pleasant silence in the library (a silence produced by the quiet concentration of the minds in the room). It is a space for thinking alone; studying alone; returning to an isolated world of singular focus.
As I sit in a single carrel – with my sheets of loose-leaf tattooed in my handwriting – I think, in hindsight, of all that I have learned this semester. All these notes in front of me – faded scribbles of blue marks and black ink – signify important vocabulary terms and critical thematic concepts. But personally, these notes display meanings beyond their surfaces of white paper. These notes represent a semester-long schedule of dedication; a dedication to learning new subjects; expanding my mind; and of course, enabling new and fresh perspectives towards the world.
As final exams approach, many of us (many students) are experiencing fearful nervousness or lingering anxieties due to the semester’s weeks coming to a close. We are busy memorizing, pre-planning (or cramming), outlining, and ensuring we are as prepared as possible for our last exams. And yet, beneath our cyclical stresses, we must not forget that what we are learning in our classrooms can be applied to the larger world that surrounds us.
Personally, I have found that Shakespeare’s witty quotations and metatheatrical creations can be found reflected in modern television series and cinematic presentations. I have discovered that the financial equations I have learned can be applied to owning a credit card or smartly seeking out a car loan or a federal loan. I have thought about the philosophical Latin phrases I have absorbed over the semester (such as Discordia Concurs) and shared its meanings in conversation and in creating art.
As I prepare for my final exams, I try to incorporate this type of thinking into my work and practice. I remember to recall what is beneath the surface of every subject that I learn: something deeper; something long-standing, something that is impactful and timeless; truthfully, something to be shared, through myself, as a medium or vessel for meaning.