Physically, Villanova’s campus is being radically transformed. The distracting beeps from construction machinery accompany me on my infrequent trips to the library.
Sand kicks up into the air like a desert without an oasis. The whole endeavor reminds Bostonians, like myself, of the laughable “Big Dig” project that only recently came to completion.
As easy as it is to poke fun at the “Transformation of the Campus Landscape” project on campus, there are certain lessons that we can learn about ourselves and our University that convert the physical changes around campus into a mental, philosophical exercise of self-discovery.
Why is it important that the University undergo such a metamorphosis? Is it only for image so our rankings can improve on businessweek.com?
While improving our rankings never hurt, there is also something to be said about living on a beautiful campus where we are learning in a spacious, clean environment. By making these changes to campus, the quality of life for students should improve in the future.
What does this tell us about our beloved Nova Nation? It tells us that the University is not content with being the top-ranked regional university in the North category for the 21st straight year; rather, University President Rev. Peter M. Donahue, O.S.A. is clearly striving for a higher standard.
This also tells us about the philosophy of the University which has made a conscious decision to sacrifice the present in order to reap rewards in the future. Students at the University do not choose whether the construction on campus happens or not; yet every student here on campus has to decide how they choose to view the reconstruction.
Yes, it is commonly understood that working toward the future while sacrificing today is the most admirable path to take. Economists will tell you that “futureville,” where capital goods are favored over consumer goods, always will outperform “presentville,” where more consumer goods are made in place of capital goods.
The wonderful staff working on the second floor of the library will tell you to put aside the pleasures of today and manage your time so you can plan for your near future.
Parents have told us since the first day we bought a game system that we must finish our homework first, sacrificing current desires to greater enjoy the rest of our day.
Some may not agree with this assertion, but all we truly have is each moment. Yes, they are strung together by time, or perhaps God, weaving elaborate textile designs that become our life journey. But we never know when God may cut our journey short, when the thread of good health, relationships and material possessions may become torn.
This is why we must sew the thread on beautifully, precisely and flawlessly the first time. Instead of wanting to finish the entire cloth, we must just complete each individual stitch one-by-one, with care.
Not only must we build our tapestry of life with care, but with enthusiasm. If it only gives us pleasure to see the entire cloth in its completion, then we have wasted our time in what could be an enjoyable task of sewing the masterpiece.We must learn to love weaving the cloth.
What does this philosophical digression have to do with the reconstruction of the University’s campus?We can choose to moan and groan when we have to walk a few hundred feet extra to get to Mendel Hall. We can choose to see the dust and boulders as eyesores, as impediments to arriving to class on time. We can choose to let the beeping of the machinery ring in our ears, throb in our heart and thump in our head.
Or we can do more than simply tolerate the project; we can look at the construction and smile. We can love the extra walk because we know, when completed, the walk will be infinitely nicer. We can walk through the chalky air and know that we will smell freshly cut grass and the sweet perfume of flowers soon. We can hear the beeps from the bulldozers and imagine they will be the chirps of chickadees, cardinals and wrens in time.
This is what we can learn from the “Transformation of the Campus Landscape” project; we can learn to embrace the inconveniences of the present knowing they will reap rewards in the future. We can see that our school cares for us in the future at the sacrifice of the present and it is up to us, the student body to appreciate and enjoy the process of rebuilding the University for ourselves and for the students who follow us.
Larry Flynn is a freshman undeclared major from North Andover, MA. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.