In the moments before the digital clock beeps its way to 12:00 on New Year’s Eve, it is almost as if 2014 comes back to memory like some ghost out of a dream. At times the bad memories come back first, stinging the mind with uncomfortable emotions like regret or remorse. Then come the good memories like those little victories in class, a good grade in a test, a thoughtful movie that I happened to see, and even the memory of a good meal shared with a loved one. It would be a bit strange to think of “new” years without all the fireworks, since without them we would probably not have any idea which year was which. Maybe the counting is a way of seeing how things changed or maybe it is just to show us how far we have gone. Although the irony of it all is that in the cosmic scheme of things, and end of every year brings us just to where we started: the Earth has just made one complete revolution around the sun.
Perhaps the novelty of this year was the advent of The Long Summer – that awkward gap created in the transition from the (tropical) academic calendar to the international(?) academic calendar. What it resulted to was a four-month long break perfect for erasing whatever knowledge lingered from the past year in school. It was one third of the year and it was all spent without (required) study. This was the time I saw Bicol for the first time and how the image of Mt. Mayon was etched in my memory forever. I tried to take pictures but it did not work out in the end. I brought along some old film I had to use but because of carelessness, the camera did not catch the film and I ended up with a blank roll. Maybe this time my memory will be the only souvenir for that trip.
A few months later came the first semester. It was strange to say the least. The shift in academic calendar gave us the unique chance to ogle at the pictures of students from other schools enjoying their semestral break earlier than us. With regard to the semester, well, some things are better left unsaid. If one thing can be said about it, perhaps it would be post-traumatic semester disorder.
All in all (and this is just a grand abstraction much like tweeting a synopsis for LotR), this year had extremes: phenomenal down time (a third of the year, to be exact) and phenomenal work. Six subjects with several cases for each subject in a two-subject-a-day schedule is quite stressful to say the least. The long weekend was originally praised but professors would schedule makeup classes in our free days anyway so our cheers were really unfounded in the end. Maybe it would be good to list down a couple of handy lessons learned in the past year. The 1st list of 10 in the year 2015 (in no particular order):
- Hard work carries its own special reward. There are many paths to reach a destination and with technology there are even more. There are also many shortcuts. There is also the path of authentic hard work though more often than not it is the impractical one: writing down your own notes with pen and paper, reading cases in the original, making your own digests, not relying solely on reviewers to get through the semester, learning. True enough, this is hard work but perhaps there is a secret that the old-timers know and that we have to find out. It is a well-kept secret that the finder takes as his own special reward.
- Love good music. There is nothing like enjoying a good jazz tune in a quiet room after a stressful day at school. Some things are definitely better left unsaid.
- Get a life. My economics professor in college always reminded us about this in his classes. It stuck and continues to stick more and more. Life is short.
- Worrying is not a solution. Though it does provide for a good excuse to have a short study break.
- You can’t please them all. At times the one who thinks that he or she can please them all is actually the one most irritating. Maybe a corollary if not the equivalent to this is that quite overused phrase: be yourself. Nobody likes a kiss-ass.
- Love the family.
- Love God. I still ask myself why I chose a secular state university to study law if not only for the trees along the oval. It also puzzles me how the Church of the Holy Sacrifice is so near Malcolm Hall. I would like to think it is some consolation from studying in a secular environment.
- Mens sana in corpore sano. Sound mind in a sound body. Take a walk!
- Simplify, simplify, simplify. Minimize waste and effort. Maximize results.
- Know the facts. Far too often I jump into making decisions without sifting through the facts if indeed they can be sifted through. Maybe the lesson is to work with what you have. Strangely, the tune from Sweeney Todd came to mind…