Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Looking Out From the Precipice

I am not fond of regret. Vigilantly, I avoid it, and with less than a week until the sun sets on my time in Japan, again posed to me is the perennial question: Have I done enough?

Practicality has overtaken me in this three-week interstice between one semester and the next. Lest I dry up my savings completely, I have reserved myself to a state of relative dormancy. As relaxing and economical as it has been, I know too well the creeping feeling of torpid apathy. It arrives packaged in sensibility, for no doubt am I exhausted, and I cannot deny my desire to pass the days and return home to my old life in America. Slowly, and then all at once, I had become entrenched in a slumber of lethargy.

What finally jolted me awake was the sudden realization of a looming presence all around me. It was none other than the great motivator of us all, whose existence my young mind had let slip from memory.

It was Death.

I have coasted, blithely negligent to such a distant threat, for some time. Yet in the last few days I have seen one former classmate hospitalized, and learned that another immanently faces a struggle with leukemia.

Sometimes, even commonplace ideas can be so foreign, for abstract concept and intimate experience yield two very different understandings. Especially for someone who thought they had grown accustomed to entertaining thoughts foreign to them, I find myself struggling with this newfound absurdity of death.

Now with two accounts of longevity being possibly cheated from youth right before my eyes, more than before I am afraid of ever, or of ultimately, answering “no” to the question of whether I have done enough. But for me, will it ever be anything else?

Although I have enjoyed Japan thoroughly, to say that my time has been adequate gives rise to uncertainty. My intention of coming to Japan was always to learn, academically, culturally, and personally. In terms of culture, I will always be a glutton of Japanese, and as far as personal progress is concerned, I cannot hope to accurately judge my own growth. Between the three, my grades were the only measurable parameter.

Thus, most of my time was spent in books.

For many far-sighted college students, the begrudging trade of enjoyment for studies is hardly a new habit. Surely, the payout will exceed the initial investment, and in that sense our anxiety to savor the present is dampened by anticipation for the future. Over time I have allowed the idea to become doctrine, inconsiderate of the chance of tragedy, and duly so, for it is a statistically negligible possibility.

Except it is a paradox, how risk aversion can become an addiction that poses worse prospects than its alternative, and how death can make a joke out of our careful lives.

I will always want to spend beyond my means, to take risks I cannot afford, and to cheat Death for as long as I can. In essence, I play a game of luck. But then again, who doesn’t? We’re all studying abroad in this world, constantly searching for beauty, or novelty, or foreignness—whatever fuels for our personal ambitions—before our time is up and we must return to whatever oblivion we came from.

Naturally, my experiences here will never be enough, and I will inevitably think of what I should have done, but that is not to say that I should not try anyway. Risk, and failure, really aren’t so bad; in the end, it is the regret that might kill me.

chatter profile photoCeleste Chisholm is a rising senior in the College. This is the final appearance of An American Hoya in Japan.

View Comments (2)
More to Discover

Comments (2)

All The Hoya Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • A

    Alan StewartSep 24, 2014 at 11:47 pm

    Greatly enjoyed the posts, intruiging analyses from a truly unique perspective…. those of us that have been there know that cultural insights are as important a reflection of the country as the physical places and things…. Great work Celeste and thank you for writing them!

  • W

    WhatAug 15, 2014 at 11:52 am

    It’s really funny that how even though I’ve read a handful of your posts, I don’t think I remember reading anything actually relating to Japan.