Andres Taborda ’15
“So look up from your phone, shut down that display,
take in your surroundings, and make the most of today.
Just one real connection is all it can take,
to show you the difference that being there can make.”
What I thought was a compulsive midnight run to McDonald’s on a weeknight ended up leading to one of the most eye-opening conversations. After struggling to talk to a box where there was human on the other side taking our order, a few friends and I sat in the Davis lot inhaling fast food, and came to the realization that we might be screwed.
Looking back at the last four years triggers a trip down memory lane. What if I told you that we’ve spent most of the past four years looking down instead of up? I’m just as guilty as you are. We’ve been staring deep into the pixels of our iPhones and Galaxies and what not trying to avoid awkward encounters or figuring out where everyone is at any given time.
I have been trying to come up with some farewell words as I prepare to leave Providence College in two weeks time. It was after watching this YouTube video that everything was put into perspective. I thought about the great memories I had made at PC, but couldn’t help but think about the many more I could have had. Most of the ones never made were because I was on my phone, with headphones in, or simply just looking down.
Where to begin? If only in the past four years I had paid attention to whoever was trying to make small talk in the elevator instead of aggressively making Twitter reload on my phone. What if I had taken the time to say hello to someone making the trek up Guzman Hill to our 8:30? That could have helped the serious case of the Mondays. Or what if you had gone in for the kiss instead of frantically texting your friends for advice on whether or not to make a move?
That escalated quickly, didn’t it? Here’s the thing. Our generation has lost that personal feel and the ability to interact with other humans. Do we even know what taking a risk is anymore? Why bother facing rejection in person when Snapchat will delete it for you in 1-10 seconds and you can forget about it? It’s so much easier to send Snapchats and tweet and text people, but when it comes to interacting with others in person, we freeze. Steve Jobs and Co. put the world in the palm of our hands, but took away one of the best qualities a human can have: personal interaction.
Here’s what I’m trying to get at. We need to start claiming back our humanity. Technology is preventing us from making the memories that our parents still remember decades later. Our memories are becoming like Snapchats. They’ll disappear in a matter of seconds. So I’m offering my apologies here to everyone I so easily send Snapchats to but ignored in person. If I flirted with you over any of these apps because it was easier, but refused to tell you how I felt in person, I’m sorry for wasting time and not stepping up to the plate. To everyone who had a conversation with me and I told you I was “multitasking” when I kept looking at my phone, odds are I don’t remember our conversation and how I wish I did.
To my fellow seniors: We’re about to head into the real world. Two weeks from this exact moment (11:30 a.m.) Father Shanley will open our commencement ceremony. We (insert expletive here) did it! You actually need no better reason to have your head held high. As we go forth, let’s make a pact to look up and we’ll see how it went when we come back in five years for our first reunion.
This world is pretty screwed up sometimes, but I can almost guarantee that no one will propose to their future spouse on Snapchat nor will they say, “I just fell in love when she tweeted at me.” But what you will hear is, “We just locked eyes and that’s when I knew she was the one” or “We just kept in touch after college, met up, and regretted wasting so much time.” These are the romantic stories we hear from our parents or even those that entered adulthood before cell phones did everything for you. What’s so bad about bringing these back?
To everyone else: Make the best out of the four years you have here. Keep your head up and make sure that every moment, whether good or bad, is a memory that stays with you and doesn’t disappear when your brand new iPhone 6 takes a plunge in the pool this summer. Take the risk. Take a chance. Do it for our generation, not for the Vine or the Snapchat Story.
Emily Kennedy ’15
When I came to Providence College as an eager 18-year-old, I was brimming with passion and the sense of possibility. The campus was filled with energy and excitement as 1,000 young, fresh minds arrived glossy-eyed and nervous, but ready to be inspired. Everything was new and we had nothing to lose. Our potential had yet to be molded. As my fellow classmates and I were ushered to the field for Play Fair, I saw a similar sense of passion and excitement for what we could do in the next four years and beyond. I met classmates who enjoyed history, had a passion for public service, wanted to change the education system, were interested in becoming a doctor, and were budding entrepreneurs.
Now four years later, when asked the question, “what are your post-grad job prospects?” I am increasingly aware of the common response, “I am working at Liberty Mutual, PWC, Deloitte” — or insert other prestigious Wall Street name. I hear about the aggressive recruiting from “Insight Global” and the promising accounting jobs at “Kahn, Litwin, Renza & Co., Ltd.” But why does it seem that, like herded cattle, many of us are just following the crowd?
So what happened? Where did the history buff go? Or the girl who wanted to change education policy? Will that kid still start his own business? How have these bright, inspired, hopeful freshmen morphed from being driven by passion to being goaded into conformity along with thousands of other post-graduates?
Don’t get me wrong. I understand the need to be practical, and finding a decent job after graduation is a massive accomplishment. I also know that some people really do have a passion for finance, or accounting or consulting. But I’m also not convinced that the volume of new grads the big recruiters hire is the best use of our talent and ambition. We were tossed in a sea of liberal arts education for a reason. We learned to think critically and reason practically. We understand the trajectory of Western Civilization and learned more than a little bit about ethics and theology.
Those are credentials too. The kind that make previous generations say we’re their hope and promise. Yet at every job fair I attended and every email I received from Career Education, I was invited in with a slick and well-worn marketing pitch. Few seniors have any idea how to get a job, let alone know what they want to pursue. But these companies are brilliant marketers. They know how to make us feel special. They personalize their emails and say they could really use our insight and creativity. Of course, how many of them really expect to tap our creativity? How many of them really think we’re special? We don’t know what we want, but apparently these companies know that we would be a good fit.
Maybe I’m too much of an idealist, but I think that most young, determined students want to make a positive impact on the world. We want to have a sense of purpose, to feel empowered. I know that kid who spent spring break traveling to rural Pennsylvania for Habitat for Humanity does. I know the girl who taught dance classes to little kids over the weekend does. Even the guy who spent his evenings tutoring English to employees on our campus does. Providence College students are driven to do good things. We can do anything. There is so much more out there than crunching numbers and spreadsheets to make more money for those with the most. If that’s what you love, I’m glad that you love it because the world needs you. But if your first job out of college is not your dream pursuit, please don’t let go. Do not forget the creative energy, the innovative spirit, and the carefree excitement that you brought to PC when you became a Friar four years ago. And remember, more than anything, never lose your passion.
Matthew Henry Smith, ’16
Last night I had a dream that the sun was setting and I was in the car with my parents. My father was driving, my mother was beside him in the passenger seat, and I was sitting in the back fraught with confusion. I was confused because my father, Francis, was telling my mother and me about all of the things he wanted to do. Some of the things were small household tasks and others were plans big enough to change the world. I leaned forward, putting my hand on his shoulder and tenderly told him that he could not do these things because he had died. He became angry and shook off my hand, telling me that it wasn’t true. How it could be true if he was driving? My mother never moved, just keeping her eyes on the road. I woke up in tears.
My father spent so much of the last four years in hospitals that the past few weeks without him haven’t been totally foreign in feeling. And beyond the usual, “He was suffering and now it’s a blessing that he is at peace,” I haven’t verbalized the permanence of his absence. Then again, things are starting to come to my attention, like when the front door opens in the evening and I find myself expecting to hear the dog bark, my dad’s briefcase thud to the floor and my mother to call out, “Stand up; your father’s home.” Now the dog barks, the door opens, and a stranger delivers flowers. They are beautiful but they are not my father.
We have all gone back to work and to the places where we live, finding purpose in the busyness, new joys tinged with melancholy. I often begin to message my dad when I find good news to share, but then close my phone when I realize the futility of this action. Moving on will take a long time and the process will likely be a jarring sequence of bangs and busts.
Yet the dream I had last night has me thinking differently. Liturgically speaking we are in a time of Lent, when Catholics walk with Christ on his journey of sacrifice. Despite this, in my heart it is Pentecost, the celebration of Christ sending his Holy Spirit to guide the Apostles in spreading the Gospel. I believe the spirit of my father has interrupted my efforts to move on by reminding me of the work he has yet to do.
In my dream, my father wasn’t incredulous because he couldn’t accept his own death; he was incredulous that I could not see beyond it. I was like Thomas, doubting the miraculous, assuming that my life would be forever devoid of the man who raised me. But it isn’t like that at all. My father shaped my moral compass and remains involved in my choices, each, in part, a reflection of his values. As the Holy Spirit guides all of us who mourn the death of Christ and hope in his resurrection, the living spirit of my father guides me, my family and all who he touched.
Last night I did not dream of my father; my father came to meet me in my dream. And he told me that his work isn’t finished. And he told me not to doubt that it could be done. And my mother keeps her eyes on the road because she knows it is so. She is driven by my father and, now reminded, so am I. He wanted me to see that.
My father lives and it is true because he is driving.
Matthew has been a contributor to Friarside Chats since April of 2013. This is his final post.
The Friarside Chats team and community offers its love and prayers to Matthew Henry Smith and his family. Matthew’s father, Francis Smith, died Tuesday morning. Mr. Smith was a devoted father and Smith Hill community leader. He was a friend and neighbor of Providence College. Read more about Francis’ life and legacy.
Please consider making a donation to the Smith Hill Community Development Corporation in Mr. Smith’s honor.
Smith Hill Community Development Corporation, 231 Douglas Ave., Providence, 02908.
Abby Hevert, ’15
I have worked with homeless people since the beginning of September. In that time, I have worked tirelessly to find these people homes, especially amidst the gloomy and frigid weather that Rhode Island has given its residents. My clients struggle with many different things. Universally, they have experienced trauma, often starting in childhood and continuing on to their days in shelter or on the street. Until I started working with these people, I did not understand that homelessness in and of itself is traumatic. It is completely destabilizing and truly shakes people to their cores. It disrupts peace and removes certainty. Homelessness tests the strength of those who are subject to it by adding extra stressors: divorces, child custody issues, health problems, sexual abuse, physical abuse, and even monetary abuse. Therefore, the homeless try to find ways to cope. Yes, it is true that some may turn to different substances to try to ease their pain. And while many people may find this hard to believe, I am a witness to true beauty every day I go to work. This is because I get to see how unwavering, steadfast, and wonderful Homeless Love can truly be.
And yes, in some ways I am talking about romantic love. I have worked with couples who do not stop holding each other’s hands throughout the entire day. They steal kisses from one another when they think no one is watching. These couples still look at one another with adoring glances when they are standing in line for food stamps and have not showered in days. And while they do argue and disagree, they often are forced to put these differences aside because of the unique stressors they face. Suddenly, when they become homeless, the disagreements that most couples have about things like perceived insensitivity or jealousy become insignificant. These issues become petty because more important things take center stage. Basic needs become the priority as they merely try to survive in a world that constantly rejects them. When I asked one couple what keeps their love for one another so strong, they simply answered: “Being homeless is too hard to do without someone else. You just need a partner to help you get through this time in your life.”
Sometimes these partners come in less traditional forms. Often, older women will try to take younger women under their wings as they navigate the shelter system. They demonstrate a kind of motherly love and concern for the women who are young enough to be their daughters. Often, some unlikely pairs develop. One man with cognitive issues and mental delays may pair up with a big, strong, and well-functioning man, who protects the cognitively impaired one with a kind of brotherly love. Then there are the people who do not want, and believe that they do not need, anyone. However, despite their best attempts to keep others away, their homeless peers still make sure to invite them to go get meals at the local soup kitchen.
However, the truest form of Homeless Love can best be seen in the face of devastation. When one of their own dies, the homeless often rally with one another to mourn their deaths. Too often, the homeless may try to cut their misery short by taking their own lives or nursing their wounds with drugs that may cause their demise. And then, their homeless peers are forced to grieve the loss of their friends. This is partly done by candlelight vigils, performed to honor and preserve the dignity of all homeless lives. When the homeless die, they often do not have the monetary resources to hold proper funerals. And, so, they often die without proper recognition or anyone to claim them as their own. However, Homeless Love usually prevails as the departed person’s homeless friends gather to honor the life of someone who helped his or her peers simply get through homelessness. In a way, the homeless are all partners in the same journey toward peace and stability. Their devotion to one another does not die even in the wake of physical death.
And this, in my opinion, is what true love is all about. It is about loving each other, whether romantically or in the form of friendship, to the end in an unconditional way. It is not about giving of oneself and expecting something in return. It is, instead, a sweet offering of loyalty and companionship. It is not dressed up and does not insist on fancy dinners or extravagant gifts. It sustains us in the darkest of times. This kind of true love is happy with simple conversation, warm hugs, and words of encouragement. It is not proud or boastful; it is humble and quiet. Really, this life of ours, not only makes love look hard, but it makes it work hard. And again, this love can be demonstrated with our families, our friends, our colleagues, or significant others. It is not enough to show up; we must show our beloveds our whole selves, even if we do not look our best, did not get the job, or did not have money for the gift. Really, we must all strive for the kind of love that is bare, not the kind of love that is embellished.
We must strive for Homeless Love.
Megan Grammatico, ’15
Full disclosure: I spent the two weeks after New Years’ groaning about the amount of people at the gym. To be fair, it was always packed. Not college-kids-home-from break sort of packed, but the “every New Years Resolutioner that vowed to get healthy in the New Year descended on my tiny YMCA gym” kind of packed that ultimately convinced me to run (read: freeze and give up) outside rather than wait for a treadmill. As I was leaving, the woman working the desk said to me “just give it a week, and they’ll all be gone.” I laughed a little and left, but the comment made me think about New Years Resolutions in general, and how easy it is to get sucked into a mentality that is both unsustainable and unhealthy.
First of all, let me be entirely clear that if your resolution is to get healthy this New Year, good for you! Take up all the space at the gym that you need—a commitment, new or old, to fitness and health is something we should encourage and admire; not groan because there’s a tiny wait for a treadmill. With that said, if your anything like me, your list of New Years Resolutions can easily start to look like a “Things I’m Going to do in 2015 to Be The Perfect Person” list. When I went back on my computer to look at mine after leaving the gym, I actually laughed out loud. It was an entire page long, broken down into sections and sub-sections: academics, fitness, professional goals, and books to read. It was ridiculous, and it would have failed miserably. Despite my best efforts to resist, I had once again gotten sucked into the allure of doing everything perfectly. It’s a temptation that us first-born perfectionists have to be particularly on guard against—tying your identity to your achievements pretty much always ends badly.
So, rather than having a crazy list of resolutions that involve Doing All The Things and Being All The Things, I decided I would take a different approach this year. Rather than an obsessive list of goals and rules and obligations to meet, I decided to make a list of things I’m not going to try harder on in 2015. For me, this is about giving myself permission to be imperfect, permission to slow down, and permission to let some things just fall by the wayside. And so, I give you, Friarside readers, my 2015 anti-New Years Resolutions:
Things I am Not Going to Try Harder on in 2015:
- Being on time. Five minutes has never changed anything (except maybe brain surgery, and that’s not exactly on my list of daily activities). If the Dunkin line is going to make me 3 minutes late for class, so be it. One of my favorite things about living abroad was learning that an obsession with punctuality is more of an American cultural phenomenon than anything else. It’s just not something I’m going to worry about this year.
- Trying to make Not My People happy. There are important people in my life: family, close friends, roommates—they matter, and I will try as hard as I can to make their lives easier and happier. Everyone else? Not something I can control, so I refuse to worry about it.
- Counting carbs/calories/any number that has to do with food. If I can eat reasonably healthy, most of the time, that’s good enough for me. Brownies are good for your soul. And don’t dare try to tell me the amount of calories in Panera mac’n’cheese. Ignorance is cheesy, delicious, not-good-for-my-lactose-intolerance bliss.
That’s it. Those are my resolutions for 2015. Try it: go ahead and cross out any ridiculous resolution that you’ll abandon by mid-February. We don’t need to manufacture failure—real life does that well enough on its own.
Abby Hevert, ’15
On April fourth 1968, a man died. The adjectives used to describe him could probably never accurately define the breadth of his impact or the depth of his life. He did not pass away peacefully, but instead was robbed of a life that helped to change, and is still changing, the social and political framework of the United States of America. Many people know him for a speech that he gave on another April day. It is often called the “I have a dream speech,” and Martin Luther King Junior delivered it. In it, he details his dreams for America and its youth: I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character…I have a dream today.
And while many people know and love this speech, they often do not reference another speech that is, in my opinion, one of the most eloquent addresses in American history, the speech that Robert Kennedy gave on the day that Martin Luther King Junior died. In it, he pleaded for peace, nonviolence, tolerance, and solidarity among all Americans in the wake of King’s death:
So I ask you tonight to return home, to say a prayer for the family of Martin Luther King, yeah that’s true, but more importantly to say a prayer for our own country, which all of us love – a prayer for understanding and that compassion of which I spoke
But the vast majority of white people and the vast majority of black people in this country want to live together, want to improve the quality of our life, and want justice for all human beings that abide in our land.Let us dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world.
The phrase “life of this world” always struck me as important. It implies that the world is not a place where we live; it is a place that lives and is affected by the actions of the people who populate it. It has a life of its own, and has stories of its own. We are all involved in a kind of plot where we climb the climaxes and stumble into its valleys. King even mentions these ups and downs in his speech:
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight…
And this is what the life of King did; it started to make his dream come true. This is the life well lived. It dreams extravagantly and works toward those dreams day and night. It is consumed by these dreams and must accomplish these dreams. And while many of us have many dreams, only some are these all-consuming kind of dreams that seem as though they are requirements for living instead of things in life that we would like to have. Sure, I dream of one day owning my own jeep wrangler and a house on the beach, but I must become a social worker who will help to heal the human spirit. One of my professors calls this phenomenon a kind of “internal musting:” actions that we must perform instead of actions that we think we should perform. Some people call it a calling and it can come in many forms. Maybe you are called to be a teacher or a lawyer or a banker. Perhaps you are meant to be a father or a mother. Maybe you are called to open a nonprofit or a foundation. Or maybe you are called to level the metaphorical playing field for all of America’s youth by working toward fairer governmental policies. No matter what this “musting” is, you must do it. Listen intently and make decisions accordingly.
And, yet, it is especially important that we all follow the same dream that Kennedy delineated in his speech. We must all work toward making “gentle the life of this world.” It is necessary that we use our gifts, with which we are all undoubtedly bestowed, to create straighter paths, lower mountains, and higher valleys. After all, we are all given one life and these collective lives make up the life of this world.
So, we may as well tame the savageness of the human condition in the name of Martin Luther King Junior and all of the martyrs who have died to make the life of this world just a little more gentle.
Michael Hagan ’15
Ms. Cleary took a long due breath
As the children ran out to play.
At last the recess bell had rung
On that mid-December day.
But timid footsteps Ms. Cleary heard
A few yards behind her back.
“Ms. Cleary” spoke a nervous voice
The voice belonged to Jack.
Now you all have met a Jack, I’m sure.
Maybe you yourself were one.
No difference did the child see
In the meanings of mischief and fun
Just Tuesday Jack had poured his glue
On little Chelsea’s chair.
October’s prank of similar sort
Had cost poor Billy some hair.
Even Ms. Cleary was wary of Jack,
What tricks he might have up his sleeve.
She looked at him sternly as firmly she asked,
“Yes, Jack. What do you need?”
“That story you read about Santa,” said Jack,
As nervously nearer he drew,
“Ms. Cleary, I need you to tell me, please,
Is it… how can it be true?
I read, Ms. Cleary, I read a lot.
I read in a book last week;
There’s billions of people alive in the world,
Too many to count or meet.
How do they all get presents from Santa?
How does he not forget some?
And also, Ms. Cleary, my cousin Jake says…
Says believing in Santa is dumb.”
That mischievous smirk that Jack always wore
Was gone, and tears on their way.
She knew to put a hand on his shoulder,
But knew not what to say.
She took a seat on the classroom rug
Bidding him sit as well.
Struck, she was, for never’d she seen
In a child so much of herself.
Remembering well a winter’s day
Some twenty years before,
Ms. Cleary recalled what she was taught
On Ms. Webster’s classroom floor.
“You are right, Jack,” Ms. Cleary said,
“It seems like it just can’t be true.
But it is,” she began to explain to the boy
Not a lie, but the truth that she knew.
“There is a Santa Claus,” she said,
“I know that it’s hard to believe,
But I’ve met him myself, I’ll never forget,”
She said lifting her hand from his sleeve.
“I wasn’t much older than you are now,
When I began to doubt.
But I met him, Jack, and that’s when I learned
What Santa is all about.
Now I don’t mean the man in red at the mall
You’re a smart boy; he’s just an act
I mean the real Santa, I met the real thing,
And I promise that you will too, Jack.
One day, maybe soon, you’ll meet Santa Claus
He may not look like you’ve heard.
But Jack, he’s real, like you and me
And when you meet him you’ll learn.
We don’t have to rush, the time will come
For you to meet Santa Claus,
But if you could today, what would you say
To him?” She asked and paused.
“I’d say,” the child began to speak,
“I’d say thank-you. Thank you a bunch!
What can I do to repay Santa Claus
When I meet him? He’s given so much!”
“Exactly,” spoke Ms. Cleary, “Nothing,
And Jack, that’s just it.
Can’t thank him enough; you can’t pay him back.
You can only accept the gift.
But part of that gift is a lesson, Jack
To remember as long as you live.
Expecting nothing in return
He teaches us to give.
There’s another part you’ll just have to learn
More than the rest, it’s true.
The most wonderful part of meeting Santa
Is learning how much he loves you.
You’re more like Santa than you think,
One day you’ll make miracles too.”
The two walked to the door, Jack’s grin lit up.
Like a bolt to the playground he flew.
A very merry Christmas and blessed New Year to you and your families. “God bless us, everyone.”
Guest Chat – Submitted 12/15/14
Dan Hogan ’13
It’s that time of the year again at Providence College where stockings hang over the fireplace in Slavin, a tree sits in the middle of the Great Hall in Ruane, Ray has holiday decorations making it seem a little less dismal, and the student body is freaking out about finals. As I’m standing in line at Dunkin waiting to get my first coffee for the day this reality is all too clear. It becomes even clearer as I overhear two seniors discussing their plans for the future, essentially freaking out waiting for Armageddon, aka Graduation Day. Yes, it’s the time for people to freak out about being one semester closer to graduation and for the senior class this is all too real. Seniors have one more semester left until they leave the PC bubble and enter into the real world. They have one more semester to “live it up” before total responsibility hits them in the face. They have one more semester to be able to go out on a weeknight and be able to still function the next day. They have one more semester to see and live with their best friends every day. In essence, they have one more semester until life ends, as they know it!
Well 2015, I have a message for you, STOP FREAKING OUT!!!!! Yes, it’s true come May you’re lives, as you know it are going to change. The people you met at Freshmen Orientation or walking around your floor are not going to be the next room over or two houses down. You won’t be able to put off a paper until the last minute and be able to easily get an A-. You won’t be able to go out four nights a week and still be able to function the next day. However, this does not mean life ends. In fact, it is only the beginning. Yes, I know it is a scary time for most of you not knowing what you are going to do after receiving your diploma while many of your friends may have jobs or internships already lined up. Yes, I know it is daunting for those of you who do have a job who may have to move to a place where you do not know anyone else. Yes, I know you do not want to leave your roommates or friends and want to spend as much time with them as possible. However, it is okay.
As Bob Marley once said, “Don’t worry about a thing,’Cause every little thing gonna be alright.” He speaks the truth. Throughout your first year out in the “real world”, you will experience many different emotions. You will be excited to be making money. You will be sad come September when you see people heading back to PC for another semester. You will be frustrated with your job or living with my parents and still be asking the question “What am I doing with my life?” You will step onto campus for Fake Alumni and Alumni Weekends wishing you could stay and wanting to tell the freshmen to go back to high school.
Your first year out of school will be one of the biggest learning experiences in your life and you will grow more in this year than any of your four years in Friartown. You will meet new people and keep in touch with the friends you want to keep in touch with. You will start thinking about going back to grad school to pursue a new career path or new opportunities within your company. You will want to travel and see new places you have never seen before because your responsibilities are still minimal. You can still go out and have a good time, but you won’t feel like going to a place with loud music, tons of people, where you drink out of a plastic cup every weekend.
So if you are freaking out about your life after college, relax. You have your entire life to ask, “What do I want to do?” Enjoy the present and have fun. Don’t stress too much. God Bless and Go Friars!