October 2nd, 2014


If you’re taking the time to read this column, pat yourself on the back. Now before you roll your eyes, that’s not supposed to be some bad joke about how great this column is. If you’re carving time out of your day to read The Carroll News, you’ve probably had to override a typical student reflex.


Most students I’ve met, myself included, experience deep feelings of guilt for not using all possible hours to do homework. But, by stealing away some time for yourself, you might be making a very prudent decision.


Too often we get caught up in our accountancy, biology or FYS homework. And let’s face it: there’s good reason to allow ourselves to be engrossed in our studies. Devotion to schoolwork usually results in good grades, strong recommendations and new opportunities for students in the future.


But what costs are incurred by students and professors for choosing such dedication to their studies?


Our learning demands that we focus on details. Our English classes focus on individual words as indications of vast meaning. The scientific studies we conduct or learn about in class isolate individual variables to identify cause and effect. Any mathematical analysis requires painstaking attention to detail in order to arrive at the right answer.


In a system that places such great importance on detail, it’s only natural to develop a certain generalized myopia. In a way, we train ourselves to see the world through a microscope. Our classes and academia require us to sift through minutia for its meaning. But have we developed the nasty habit of looking through a microscope all the time?


Before I paddle too far down my stream of consciousness, give me a chance to explain myself. Learning is absolutely and inherently good. It opens doors to new ideas, and colors our old ideas with new layers of meaning. Learning is a treasure that can’t be taken away.


There’s other beauty in the world that we might unknowingly miss because we focus on details so heavily. By giving gross amounts of attention to small print on a page, do we forfeit our fascination with the bigger questions in life?


Just as your muscles stiffen and atrophy from underuse, so too does your imagination and curiosity if you don’t take a step back and push yourself to think new thoughts.


Look around and ask yourself: is this business as usual?


If your answer is yes, you’re probably living life like most people. People are creatures of habit, but make a conscious effort to step outside of that mold. Stop walking around with a microscopic view of things. Step back and appreciate how complex our world really is.


As children, we were allowed to think crazy, big thoughts. We were curious, energetic, and exploration excited us. It’s only when we were older that we’re expected to give up these endeavors.


Never give up curiosity or fascination.


Even as aspiring professionals at a university, don’t lose your sense of awe. Challenge your conceptions about the world, explore new ideas and adopt new perspectives.


As we scurry from class to class, tackling new assignments and meeting the latest deadline, rarely do we stop to admire anything around us.


Some of the most powerful or influential moments come from places outside of the classroom. Exploring, whether its a new idea or a new location, adds another dimension to your view of the world. It gives you a new experience to draw upon.


Let’s face it: every one of us is a ticking time bomb. No one is going to live forever. So don’t let yourself fall into the trap of missing the beauty of the forest for the trees.


Next time you’re walking back from a late night at the library, do yourself a favor and take a look at the world around you. Each night, we’re given the fasinating gift of the stars and the sky, shining from millions of  miles away.


How often do we appreciate that fact?


It’s easier to miss the world around you than you might think. To make a long story short, don’t let yourself lose fascination with the world around you. Travel to see as much of it as you can. That sort of wanderlust offers the kind of knowledge you can’t get from the bookstore.