August 24, 2014

BHOWMICK | Summer, an Overture

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In the domain of music, an overture is an introduction to something more substantial. It also determines how the rest of the orchestral piece plays out. I could not think of a better analogy for summer. It disguises the most significant episodes with its characteristic lightness of being. The tranquil, wistful afternoons of summer are more deceptive than we know. We think we are tuning out of the regularities of life, but we are never as well tuned in. Before you know it, summer is over and you have changed more than you think you have. I hated the thought of being in an unfamiliar environment for my summer, without my friends and family around. I anticipated days of absolute misery. But after two months have flown by, I realize that we are so comfortable with life as we have known it that we do not really risk getting out of our comfort zone, doing things we would never otherwise — cooking, for instance. I used to burn everything from popcorn to bacon in May.

We are forced to fend for ourselves without the reassuring, familiar faces we know way too well. We realize that we can still become friends with strangers, and that our closest friends were once strangers too. We are not constantly worrying about keeping up with exemplary standards and are living the way Kurt Vonnegut ’44 would have all Cornellians live — “The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blind-side you at 4 p.m. on some idle Tuesday” (ironically appropriated from the ‘sunscreen’ speech).

This summer started with an escalation of the confounding Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Children were abducted and killed. Social networks and political forums exploded with opinions of all sorts. Two months later, the bitterness is still simmering but somehow truce has superseded violence to some extent. Ukraine is still struggling and West Africa is battling an international health emergency. Germany won the World Cup and Kim Jong-un threatened America because of James Franco. It has been an eventful, unprecedented summer, and clearly, we still don’t have all the answers. However, I cannot help but think that the end of summer presents the world with a sense of optimism and anticipation and the rare opportunity to start again. It’s true that as summer comes to a close, it almost feels like it was a bubble. It is also true that the months to come will not resemble the months that were in any manner whatsoever. But we’ve all learned something or the other and that is both subtle and indelible. It is almost time to take those rose-tinted shades off and face the world with all of its realities again. The idea is to not return to the real world empty handed but with the warmth the summer induced in us. We had time to stop running and think about ourselves and the world. This clarity is what makes me optimistic. Despite the quagmires every fourth country seems to be stuck in, good things will happen. The idea is to preserve the sunshine in the months to come. We are already better people than we were three months back and the state of affairs across the world will resonate the change too- one step at a time. Summer revived us and I cannot wait to see how the home stretch of 2014 works out for me, you, and the rest of the world. I hope everyone has an incredible semester ahead. Welcome back!

Aditi Bhowmick is a junior n the College of Arts and Sciences. She may be reached at [email protected]. Abstruse Musings appears alternate Mondays this semester.