After all, they were the cream of the crop; the top of the class. Though the cream may sit in its frothy white throne on the top, not many people buy the drink for the cream. Most people will in fact skip right past it to get at the warm liquid below. It is in fact mostly there for decoration; the real drink is made up of what lies beneath it.
The faces I see sitting, talking, discussing things that they really have no interest in. They are all shooting for that distant star, dreaming of a place among the halls of success. Why should we force ourselves to aim so high that we secure our own disappointment? Maybe we shouldn't aim for the very top, but somewhere closer to the middle; a little below the creamy top, deep enough that the sugar and air filled topping hasn't seeped in and spoiled the sustenance of the drink.
Opening the heavy wooden door I entered the restroom. For men a restroom is a place of unspoken sanctity. For when we tread upon this hollowed ground of tile our rank and position has no meaning. Within the narrow stalls every man is equal; every man wipes himself in the same way. Maybe it was here, in the sanctity of a restroom that a certain young Prussian had a dream of a world where men were truly equal. A place where people were not prisoners to wealth and position, but went through life hand-in-hand, each doing that which he did best. A fairy tale, nothing more than another failed social experiment. In the end it seems that man is lost without a system based on class and prestige. It gives him a place in society, a morbid form of competition. Something with which he can identify himself, without it he is nothing but a face and a name.
As I let the water flow over my hands, I took a look at the familiar stranger in the mirror. The weekend has caused enough hair to surface on my face to make me look like the town drunk or one who is in emotional turmoil. The kind of face you'd expect to see on a hitchhiker or a hobo looking for enough change to get his morning fix. In a normal world it would be a face to be left alone, to be avoided. But here in the halls of Academia; there are few left who are fully sane. Striving after a percent-tile, a letter on a piece of paper; the people here are pushing themselves night and day in the name of learning. Lack of sleep, lack of fun and a truckload of caffeine; but that project demonstrating a concept of some importance to something will be done in time to be fed through the grading system and given a rank among its peers.
Leaving the last bastion of true Marxism, I walked past a student and a teacher talking about the status of a project. Projects: when multiple people enter into an agreement to work for a common cause, a whole new level of pain is introduced into the system. My experience with sizable projects is that they are two parts work, three parts promises and five parts hot air. The departments meet together and each takes a turn talking up their importance in the project. Documents are written, memos are traded and each person adds their air to the project. What results is a floating, bloated monster that is based upon a small core of actual substance.
In class I'm filling lined pages with a combination of scribbles which men long ago assigned some form of meaning. The world about me seems slow, distant; words echo about the room as if everything has been submerged in water. At the front of the classroom a presentation is being given and slide after slide of text and pictures is flashed on the screen. I should be paying attention, I'm probably being rude; but when I look at the words it all looks like gibberish. Things have begun to accelerate quickly; like water as it spins into a drain, getting faster as it approaches the end. Everything seems to be diverging to a point, a point beyond which I cannot see. What lies on the other side? Perhaps it is not for me to know as I continue my climb towards the summit. After all, life seems to always be about getting to the top, nobody puts much thought into the climb back down.
To be free,
somewhere in my mind.
A place beyond which I cannot see,
waiting for the end of the line.
Until then may I find peace,
in the simple ways to pass the time.