I was looking down and I could see a lot of people. There was probably a hundred—no, two hundred—people right in front of me, but I couldn’t see a single face. No exuberant eyes or satiny smiles were greeting me. I wasn’t sure what I was looking at; it all looked so foreign from here. At first, I was a little tentative about making my way forward. This place was just so packed, so I stopped for a second. Looking around, there wasn’t too much going on. With her gangly fingers delicately woven around the long, vertical seam of a Starbuck’s cup that had “Jessie” sharpied on it, there was a women who didn’t really look like a Jessie walking right in front of me. And, to the right of me was a guy talking on his phone so obnoxiously loud that the couple sitting across the—wait, who could he possibly be talking to at 7:45 in the morning? It was way too early to be yelling that loudly into a phone. It was way too early to even be awake. Maybe, I should just come back later. Why was I even here? This was pointless.
I was here because I had spent the last few days convincing myself that everything was going to be alright. Nothing bad was going to happen. It wasn’t going to end like this. Things would work out. Everything would be just like it was before. It didn’t matter how many times I told myself that I was going to buy this optimist routine; the nagging voice was cemented in my head. I was in more agony than a pre-teen who had finally gotten braces cemented onto his pearly whites because mother fate had decided to etch Mouth Rushmore onto his teeth—this analogy obviously isn’t coming from any kind of personal trauma I endured when I was fourteen, of course not. The feeling was making me sore and it wasn’t going away. It was getting to me. This was it. I had gotten by without incident for too long. This whole facade of maturity, responsibility, and growth was finally going to shatter; reality was going to catch up with me. I was still forgetful. I was still lazy. I was still undependable. Nothing had changed.
I had made a mistake. And now, I was going to pay for it. Nevertheless, a part of me wanted to hold onto my dignity and self-respect just a little bit longer. That essence of hope that comes from the possibility of everything working out was just big enough for me to latch on to. Maybe, just maybe, I could hold up this facade for a little bit longer, so I walked past Jessie, the chatterbox on her side, and even the couple that were giving him dirty looks. I walked past the kid with the over sized sunglasses that obviously needed to be worn indoors because the sun was so bright outside this morning and even someone so deeply engrossed in Sodoku that I just wanted to tip toe up to him and yell, “Boo!” After a moment of hesitation, I decided not to, but as I made my way to the front, I could feel the left eye and the right eye of each person sitting in this room systematically burning polka dots into my white shirt. When you burn a white tee, the white cotton burns into a hazy purple color—well at least in my head anyways. Standing at the front, purple polka dots and all, with my back to the masses, I knew each of those faces that I couldn’t see earlier where actually staring at me now, but I still couldn’t see them. It didn’t matter though; I didn’t need to. I knew what I was going to do.
So as I stood in front of this lecture hall in the basement of Wellman Hall at the University of California, Davis, I walked up towards the shiny black A/V unit that—only because some overworked interior designer was working against a deadline—was caved in by the maple planks that defined the unnatural looking unit that looked like it was still trying to figure out how it ended up married to this box of wires and buttons in the first place. I was starting to lose hope; I couldn’t see anything. There was one last chance. I reached forward and pulled out the little black shelf that was resting below the DVD player but still above the little display with all the weird lights and buttons that looked too “I can build my own computer with tin foil and a couple of paperclips” for my “I like to write long sentences” mind to want to play with. And, there it was. In all its caucasoid glory, wrapped neatly around the imprinted Apple logo, was the charger for my Macbook. The laptop charger that I had left here a good four days ago was here waiting for me. It stared back at me with the mischievous glare of a child who had ruined your favorite outfit without even realizing it—well, either that or the overhead projector light was reflecting off of it really brightly and I was seeing things.
But, there was something inherently childlike about it; you could almost feel the childlike innocence of the whole situation. It hadn’t disappeared into someone’s backpack and found it’s way to craigslist or ebay. It was Monday morning and no one had stolen the charger that I had forgotten in here on Thursday night. This little success, this small victory felt like the greatest gift I had ever received not because my younger brother was not going to have something to blackmail me about the next available opportunity, not because I would not be sending Steve Jobs a check for $100 just to have him use as scratch paper to design an iPencil that can draw perfectly circular circles without any hint of being even slightly oval, not because I would have to rely solely on my phone as my connection to the real world—I mean Facebook—whenever my battery finally died, not because of any of that. It was a gift because in spite of all my worry, anxiety, and fear, my hope had prevailed. I had spent the weekend thinking about how many different sets of classes would shuffle through this room, how many different sets of hands would be able to bring this expensive piece of equipment home, how many different opportunities for someone to hurt me would arise.
At the end of the day, good had prevailed. Walking away, I could not help but think of those must have resisted the urge to walk off with it. Who knows how many of those people needed the equipment, or even the money, more than I needed my charger? So many of those people did the honest thing, but they weren’t the ones I really admired. There was one particular person, one kind soul out there who decided to go above and beyond. This person saw exactly what everyone else had; this person made a decision; this person went out of their way to unplug it, wrap it up, and leave it at the front in hopes of the rightful owner finding it. Who does that?!
It was refreshing to remember that people like that are still out there. Good people still exist. We live in a world where turning on the television means watching networks compete over who can bring you more violence faster, switching on the radio means listening to stations fighting until one extremist voice drowns the other, and cracking open a newspaper means witnessing a competition over who can make the latest plan for peace sound more baseless than the rest. We are reminded from a young age to put our names on all our school supplies because you never know which of the weird kids in your class is going to steal your glue bottle and eat it during lunch. We are taught to assume the worst. We are taught to trust no one. We are taught to live in constant fear.
And sometimes, it takes something as trivial as leaving your charger plugged into a socket in the wall after wrapping up an on-campus MSA meeting before rushing upstairs to try to catch the closing seconds of your best friends introducing the Peop1e project to a room filled to over capacity to remind you that life doesn’t always have to be like that. We don’t have to live in constant fear. If there was one constant in this world, it wouldn’t be war or violence; it wouldn’t be poverty or famine; it wouldn’t be oppression or segregation; it wouldn’t even be the nerdiness of Star Wars conventions. It would be the good. It has been the good, the beautiful, the divine, or, better yet, the love that has been keeping this world going.
This good is what brings us together as one people. The seed of this good is planted in the hearts of each and every once of us. Regardless of who you are or where you come from, when you reach times of hardship and there seems to be no way for things to turn out well there is always that small glimmer of hope in your heart. It is in all of our hearts—that little spark of hope for a miracle. That hope is irrational and there’s not a single shard of evidence to support it but that’s okay because it doesn’t need any external support. Hope gets all the support it needs from that little seed of good in all of our hearts; it feeds off of the good in our own hearts and our knowledge that that same good exists in the hearts of each and every one of our brothers and sisters.
With this blog, I hope to dig into the crevices of my existence, wet my fingers in that small puddle of good, and get some of it onto paper before my fingers dry off. It’ll be fun, maybe a little funny, and possibly even somewhat funky sometimes. Maybe I’ll even get around to doing what everyone else usually does in their first blog post and actually introduce themselves. But for now, I want to leave you all with this gem from Rumi:
Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase “each other” doesn’t make any sense.