In my philosophy class this semester, my professor ruminated on how, ultimately, trying to live a good life is sort of a futile effort, given that we cannot possibly, 100% certainly for-sure know what good is. Someone asked what even was the point of trying, which he responded to with an anecdote.
Imagine you’re told you have to run a 500 mile race, he said, and you’re only given one hour to do it. This is clearly an impossible task – you will never be able to reach the finish line in one hour. Some people, he says, would just not run. They’d sit down and idle away their hour. You can’t really fault them. Some people would walk and not really waste their energy. And some people, he said, would think – by God, I want to see how far I can get in that hour. You really have the choice of whether you’re going to sprint and see how far you can go or just spend your life walking.
In my mind, that tied in somehow to a joke about limping my way to the finish line this exam season, but I think all the essays I’ve written in the last 72 hours have melted the part of my brain that can make those connections.
Finals, in a weird way, are the race already being over. By the time they roll around, you’ve mostly learned the material or you haven’t – you can start sprinting with a minute left, but you’ve cleared the most of the distance you can. In regards both personal and academic, I think it’s neat to reflect on what you’ve accomplished, even while you’re completely terrified for your GPA over the next few days.
There’s also a cool sense of camaraderie on campus around this time of the semester. You can wander around wrapped up in a blanket, drinking coffee out of a 32oz cup looking to the library with a thousand yard stare, and people just kind of nod and don’t question it.
So, perhaps partially in an effort to convince myself, I’ll say this – the important thing about finals is that you ran, not how quickly you got to the finish line.