Just Sayin’: Be Where You Are

Erik JohnsonIt’s fall in Ohio. The days are warm and nights are crisp. The leaves will be at their peak colors in the next couple weeks, and Peifer Orchard has amazing apple cider slushies for two dollars. Young’s should have the corn maze up and running, and Fairborn has a wonderful disc golf course. The sunsets at Buck Creek easily rival Cedarville’s, and Yellow Springs will be having the street fair soon. The day after this is put in print if I am correct. And who could forget Pumpkin Spice Lattes at one of our local coffee shops? Falls here are not too shabby.

But soon enough the corn will all be cut down, and Cedarville will be greeted with an incessant wind for the remainder of the year. If you don’t know what it means for a breeze to cut through you, you’ll learn soon enough. It won’t be long before your hair freezes on the walk to your eight o’clock class, your ears are numbed by negative degree windchill and you are wondering what in the world you are doing in such a place as Cedarville, Ohio.

And if you’re anything like me, school is not really your thing, and you have been wondering the same thing for a few weeks now. It takes me a long time to bring myself back into school mode after summer break ends. I sit and daydream about being back in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York where I have spent four out of my last five summers. One of my first thoughts upon arriving back at Cedarville this year was that I had enough money saved up to realistically thru-hike the Appalachian Trail. I have just about all the equipment I need. Food would be my primary concern. But as much as I love to entertain these thoughts in my head, I know I can’t just pick up and go. Especially with this being my last year here.

Some of you may be in a similar place right now. Maybe classes aren’t going as well as you had hoped they would. Maybe you haven’t been able to make any really close friends yet. Chances are you aren’t thinking about hiking the AT like me, but you would rather be anywhere else but here. Maybe you’re a senior who is suffering from a severe case of senioritis like I am. Maybe all you want is some homemade cookies and a hug from a parent or sibling. Thankfully, fall break is coming fast.

Many times when I start feeling like I want to be anywhere else but here at Cedarville (yes, it happens), I think back to a chapel message from Dr. Brown during my freshman year. I can’t remember exactly what his message was, but he talked about being purposeful where you are right now. He wanted us to remember we have been put in our current circumstances for a reason. And any time we start wishing to be anywhere else but where we are, we should remind ourselves, “This is where I am, and this is what I am doing.”

That quote has pulled me through the last few years at school. It’s so easy to want to just be done with school and move on with your life. Each year the pull is just a little stronger. The lure of finally entering the mystical “real world” is quite appealing. The problem with viewing life after school as the “real world” is it’s an entirely wrong way of thinking about life. What makes your time at Cedarville any less real than after you graduate? Sure, you most likely will not be in as much of a bubble as you are in Cedarville. But your life is happening right now. Your time here is more real than any future you are planning for your life at this point.

For some of you freshmen, you are really missing your friends from high school, and it is really starting to dawn on you that life will never be quite what it was the last few years. I remember sitting in my room freshman year when I realized just how good I had it in high school. There is nothing wrong with this, but you can’t let your thinking be entirely captivated by a longing for the past. The problem with this kind of thinking is that if you are not careful, you will find yourself doing the exact same thing four years from now. And you will wish you had realized how good you had it while being in college. Learn from your past and appreciate where you are now before it is gone too.

This is where I am. This is what I am doing.

I can’t promise reminding yourself of this quote will make everything work out the way you hope. From my experience, most things won’t. But so many times we are so preoccupied wishing we were somewhere else that we fail to see how incredible it is just to be alive and breathing. Don’t wish your life away just because your current circumstance is not everything you want it to be. I believe it was Greg Dyson who reminded us in chapel to be careful what we wish for because God may just give it to us.

So the next time you find yourself lacking motivation to write that 10-page paper or do your math homework, think about that quote. This is where you are. One way or another, you ended up at Cedarville University. This is what you are supposed to be doing right now. It may not be exactly what you want to hear, but it’s what you need to hear sometimes. It’s not bad to look ahead toward the future or reflect on the past, but to do so and neglect the present is dangerous.

Erik Johnson is a senior journalism major and sports editor for Cedars. He competes on the track team. Follow him at @walkingtheedge9.

Tell Erik what you would like him to write about. Send your questions, comments or concerns to erikcjohnson@cedarville.edu.

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