May 4, 2022

BARAN | For What It’s Worth

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Four years as an opinion columnist at The Cornell Daily Sun. There are so many things I wanted to say before I left. Now the time has come and I haven’t said half of them. 

In all of my columns, I’ve sugarcoated the truth. Whenever I’ve talked about bad things that had happened or ugly truths, I added a big fat BUT. Yeah, life kicked my ass this semester, BUT it was a learning experience. I continually fail to live up to my expectations for myself, BUT I’ll do better next time. I’m tired of the “BUTS.” 

The truth is, you’ll get your heart torn out and sometimes failure exists without the opportunity for redemption. Of course, all of this bad that we experience is relative. But, in absolute terms, some things still suck, and adding a BUT is just a lie to make other people feel better. For instance, I have major regrets about how I spent my time here (ha, double entendre). She’s still on my mind. And I’m becoming a part of Cornell’s past, the part that no one will remember. It doesn’t feel good, and that’s the truth. 

This column is a cliché on paper, so let’s keep that rolling. We always think we have more time than we actually do. Since my first semester here, I’ve kicked vague plans and ideas down the road. Yesterday, I woke up from a nap and found that I could see the exit ramp. There’s no more kicking room. Younger folks, don’t push your ambitions off. Don’t worry about timing — things will work out. And certainly don’t take the easy route. Go to the guest lecture by the 2011 Nobel Peace Laureate that you saw announced on a poster in Rockefeller. Ask that girl on a date, even if the end of the semester is in just a few weeks. Challenge yourself with General Chemistry when you have the option to skate by in The Language of Chemistry. 

Maybe there’s a reason I’ve left so much unsaid. Reading what I’ve written back to myself, it’s all a little depressing. But my last four years have not been defined by depression. They’ve been defined by beauty. I’ll remember the beautiful moments, the ones that meant everything to me and the ones that I never would have imagined would stick with me. 

I’ll remember walking back from Olin library during the active shooter scare of November 2021 with a random graduate student I had just met, Giving her a ride to downtown Ithaca because I didn’t want her to be nervous walking. Half-drunk, building a snowman on the side of Buffalo Street with my junior-year roommate during exam study period. Using beer cans for the eyes and nose. An older (probably graduate) student turning around and beaming at me in the Libe Café line on the first day we didn’t have to wear masks inside. Getting ice cream at the Dairy Bar after Slope Day freshman year. Licking the cone in the bed of my truck with people that would become my best friends at this school. Kissing a girl who was once important to me for the first time with the snow coming down around us. Her red dress. Standing at East Shore Park in the December wind, receiving the call that catapulted me into the next phase of my life. Yes, yes, yes. Pushing a cart into Walmart to buy groceries for myself for the first time. The sunny March day spent by Cayuga Lake with two friends, throwing rocks at beer cans we had drank and rested on the railroad tracks. Tears in the parking lot of 509 E Buffalo Street. 

I remember receiving the email accepting me into the opinion section of The Sun during O-Week of my freshman year. Drunk in a fraternity basement for the first time. That was before the position of opinion editor even existed. Before all the learning and the pain and the hoping for the future. Katie Sims, thank you for that email. 

So, there. “Honestly” has run for the last time. I couldn’t figure out how to say everything, so I said something instead. I don’t know if I did it right. But I’m glad I did it. 

Christian Baran is a senior in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. He can be reached at [email protected]. This is the final installment of his column Honestly.