My father decided to make the drive from his north New Jersey home to visit me Saturday evening. We went out for a drink, and he reminisced about my college career from his own perspective — the series of glances he’s had into my different environments these past four years. We spoke some about the plans we make and how the universe never quite lets them play out exactly the way we had in mind.
“Life isn’t necessarily about problem solving, it’s about problem management,” he said, theorizing that we will never truly escape conflict. I wasn’t sure how I felt about this philosophy — succumbing to the idea that our plans for the future just tend to go awry. It seemed a bit pessimistic for my taste. My dad took to the road once again, southbound for my hometown. I was left pondering his words.
I thought of another thing he’d said as we sat over pints that night: “It’s funny to think that you ended up here. It’s great.” He’s right, and the observation goes back to this central idea of our plans never quite working out as we draw them up. I started off an aimless kid, eager to leave the northeast, and began my college years in the beautiful, urban-meets-beach world that is Tampa. My plan? Get a degree, perhaps in philosophy. Move to a flat on the beach. Enjoy a slow-paced life — become one with the tide.
However, that all went awry. I found myself in internal conflict because I developed greater desires. A yearn to travel overtook my original plans. There was no turning back.
I found myself in Prague, blissfully aimless once again. I traveled Europe until my money ran out. Travel is a passion, but not a solution for me, I realized, because I had developed a new problem that needed solving: Ambition. Again, my plans changed radically. I enrolled at BU.
So, here I find myself with the best semblance of a plan I can muster, but things may not end up exactly how I envision them. New goals, dreams and desires could spring up and I will need to manage them to be happy — continually altering my life’s course.
I realize that my father’s philosophy — that there is no master solution— is not pessimistic at all. To grow is to change, to evolve. We develop new desires that we must quench. Whether it’s a wish to space out on a beach, a lust for travel, or a desire to impact people, our attempt to solve things and find our nirvana is an ever-evolving process. Life will not be balanced the way we can balance a mathematical equation, but it’s precisely because life cannot be solved that makes it so profound — every day is a new, marvelous adventure. We’ll always be striving for something more, because we are in a perpetual state of change. To me, there is great optimism in that. Perhaps the joy of life is derived from our journey towards an unclear destination. Our never-ending quest for solutions to new problems propels us forward.When plans go awry, the twists and turns of the universe present us with magical surprises.
Frank Marasco is a senior in the College of Communications. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.