By: Laura Pacheco
Today, I learned the first of many unforgettable lessons from an Elon professor. Rod Parks, our faculty member for the first week of service added an interesting and necessary dynamic to our group. While he was extremely fun and lighthearted. His intellectual side came to the forefront at our evening meetings at which his proposal to us one night was “ Do you want to talk about death, race, or regrets?”. At first this seemed morbid and intense and as he spoke you could feel the mood of the group shift into discomfort. But a big part of this trip is for us to look deeper into ourselves and each other, even when it’s uncomfortable. This is honestly not possible without deep intellectual stimulation in a group setting, On this particular day when Rod took over the meeting, we visited Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park on our way across country. He asked us to describe the moments in detail leading up to the geyser’s eruption at approximately 10:33 am +/- 10 minutes.The point of the question was that we couldn’t really, and Rod went on to assert that most likely not one, of the hundreds of people with cameras, or just eyes at the ready could. Because of the importance of this predetermined moment, we missed the small moments before it happened because of a moment that in this context was paramount but in truth may not be all that special depending on who you are. I decided that this is an important lesson to learn this semester. I can view this as a pit stop, and wait to be on campus like my friends whose snapchat stories I look at longingly. Or I can realize that I am doing something of substance, something invaluable, and that material, shallow college life can wait and when I get there it won’t make me feel the way that anything we do on this adventure does . I can close my eyes on the car ride and wait for the next destination or I can look out the windows at the world around me and appreciate it and talk to my friends about it, and think about the perspectives of everyone I see and let everything I see in “the middle” (my phrase for the spot between big and small milestones of life that is seemingly unimportant) and let it cultivate meaningful thought, laughter, joy, and fulfillment. I am going to try as hard as I possibly can to be present and optimistic in “the middle”, on gap and in my life after and appreciate that in life, importance is relative.