March 3, 2013

BHOWMICK: Life and Libe

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Every column I write is the brainchild of procrastination — this one is no different. In my procrastination, I’ve started to believe that if we were to remove all elements of emotion from life and measured it in terms of places, things, objects and other tangible forms, my life at Cornell would literally be Libe Café and I say so without a single hint of hyperbole.

I can actually measure my freshman year “in coffee spoons” (T.S. Eliot would be pleased). But at any point in time, if you sit in anywhere in Libe and look around from your vantage point, you will notice that the café is not only a freshman weakness — there are seniors watching the prime years of their life wrap up, there are graduate students who look like they’re discussing grave issues or recounting some bizarre Thursday night escapade. There will often be a table of coaches who have ventured all the way from Teagle asking wieldy questions like, “What makes a good basketball coach?” (yes, I eavesdrop, beware!) There are a few of us who are still convinced that we are “getting some work out of the way” but are only minutes away from giving up and returning to pointless banter with friends.

Another empirical fact about Libe is that everyone here is a watcher. I am ready to wager with you that you won’t be able to unearth a person who sits in Libe and does not look up from their laptop every fifteen minutes. There is, of course, those ever expanding Sun tables where the “Sun people” spend the time they are technically supposed to invest in classes, as if going to classes regularly is something people who work for The Sun do. There is a sorority table, an a capella table and a lonesome, retrospective odd bird hogging an entire table somewhere.

It is the place where life slows down for a bit and people and relationships matter more than grades and GPAs. It is the brighter side of life, Ladies and Gentlemen. It is the memories fostered here which will remain with us long after we forget that one terrible prelim we bombed. I come and sit in Libe once every single day of the semester just to breathe in the vivid senses of living rather than merely exist in some prolonged, regimented limbo. I would say that the worst days of my week are the ones when I walk into Libe and am not able to find a single familiar face waving belligerently at me or cannot find a single vacant table. I am then forced to walk out of the doors into the terribly morose first floor with those mundane desks where real work takes place.

I tried abandoning Libe for a week once. The resolve lasted for four days and then I gave in. It is this failure of my little experiment with my social routine at Cornell that really makes me question the principle of self-sufficiency — I’m beginning to doubt whether it is even a real concept. We are the people we meet every day in one way or the other. If we’re not constantly meeting people, what is the point of college? Here’s a disclaimer though ( you shall interpret it as advice to not care about your credits and grades only at your own risk): I am trying to make a point that maybe procrastination with friends or even by yourself in a place as alive as Libe Café is not an absolutely futile thing after all. The hours spent here are, the way I see it, a life lesson. I know it is unnerving to acknowledge that we are all actually very dependent on the people in our lives, but this vulnerability is not an entirely terrifying thing at all; it is something none of us would like to lose.  The next time you ask yourself whether your college years are going anywhere at all, visit Libe and  you will undoubtedly find a part of that magnanimous answer there. And enjoy your latte!

Aditi Bhowmick is a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences. She may be reached at abhowmick@cornellsun.com. Abstruse Musings appears alternate Mondays this semester.

Original Author: Aditi Bhowmick