I used to talk to myself a lot during my college years. Maybe I had too much time on my hands. But our conversations were sometimes illuminating.
It was a sunny day, early in the fall semester. I sat beside a window on the library’s top floor. My limbs weighed heavy with pressing questions, the ones about distant destinations. From my oversized chair, I saw how the laurel oaks were shedding their leaves and already covering up paths. Was one of them mine?
I wanted out of that library.
The weight of my books didn’t matter. Back then, I needed only a single leather strap over my shoulder to tote around everything that mattered. My blue Jansport fit like a good home, still mobile enough for me to move.
The weather told me where to go. I headed down the river walk, past the ducks and all their droppings. Once, as I trekked down this same path, some kind of Jedi bird had pooped on my shirt. But today I felt luckier, as if The Force was on my side, not theirs.
My spot was a good ways down the river. Built into the grassy bank was a half-circle nook constructed of white stone. It was rimmed by a stone bench. In the center stood a tall, large slab of stone. You could stand on it, sit on it, even lie down on it.
But you could always think on it. The hum of cars was quieter here, though bike tires occasionally sliced through my space and solitude, leaving long, airy trails behind them. Overhead, a pair of Canada geese did the same.
The blue water seemed to move with the same freedom as my backpack. Both were in possession of a strong current, one still unchained to possessions, mistakes or rusty attitudes. The water simply moved, rejoicing as it rippled and stirred around fallen trees and stones. Here, even obstacles made beautiful sounds.
Maybe rivers point to destinations, but they sound more like journeys. Especially to a college student.
My trusty Jansport brimmed with plenty of dog-eared questions and hard-bound, opposing directions. But tucked in among the textbooks, I also enjoyed the bright respite of oranges and green apples.
But more than anything, I longed to taste the future.
Did I open any of my books on that autumn day? Probably not. The questions were already in my head, and I was pretty sure the answers were somewhere out there.
I followed the river and asked a question. Stuck there in the center was a massive stone block, one end of it buried in the current.
I was one of those silly college students, desperate for some kind assurance about the future. I’d take whatever sign I could find to help me choose my next major. But there was another question closer to my heart.
Would I write a book someday?
I think my irritable maturity syndrome must have flared up when I saw the sun’s reflection stretch out over the water in a fiery line. Hmm, I told myself. Maybe this was the sign I was after. Maybe God wants to show me something here. So maybe if that line could just move a little to the left to touch the stone, I would know.
Oh, silly me. I watched and waited with unblinking anticipation. But nothing moved, except my shoulders. They disappeared and drowned.
I jumped down from my rock, landing with a sigh. But then something happened. As I moved, the reflection cast upon the water also moved. The light wasn’t fixed. And neither was I.
My eyes beamed when I saw it: Reflections can move.
Oh, silly me. If nothing else, here was a confirmation that I would never make it as a science major.
But a larger truth: I can’t wait around for signs. I must move and make things happen.
This time of year is ripe for making resolutions. To some degree, we all have them, and we’ve probably been waiting years for them to move.
So won’t you jump down from your stone and join me? I’ve already seen a glimmer of hope.