Column: Don’t Blink


Shae Daugherty

Austin Keefer remembers his years at the school with only one semester left before graduation.

Well, it happened. I blinked. Problem is, there’s no photographer there for me to ask to take the picture again.

The first three-and-a-half out of four years of high school came and left and I missed it. The memories are so scarce and so few that it may have just been a dream. Although I do remember how much some classes dragged on. I remember how some were too short. I remember the stress I carried on my back, and my longing for it all to be over.

Three years I’ve been writing for this publication. My first day feels like yesterday. Twelve years I’ve been going to public school. First grade is vivid enough to be last week. And come March, 18 years I’ll have been on this earth. Those days of crawling around the carpet, trying to form sentences couldn’t have been but a month ago…could it?

I remember freshman year, I had all this stuff I wanted to do before I graduated. Well, now it’s five months until I don the cap and gown, and the plans I haven’t ignored, I’ve forgotten.

I remember everyone warning me that it goes by fast. I didn’t listen. I really should have.

I’ve got half a year left to chisel remembrances of this school and the people in it into my brain forever. And even though there have been times over the years when I would’ve preferred entering the doors of purgatory to entering the doors of school, I know full well that when it’s all over, I’m going to miss it. It’s just inevitable. To this day, I miss every school I ever went to. Every team I ever played for. Every specific company I ever acted with. Every friend I made and never saw again.

Looking back, my problem was that I didn’t understand the significance that certain events would have in my memories, and therefore I was unable to properly appreciate them as they happened. So, I suppose that’s the key to my happiness as I enter the home stretch of my tenure at public school. To not look forward, but to look straight, straight at the here and now.

That’s not to say I have nothing to look forward to. It’s merely that I’ve accepted that those things in the days ahead will most assuredly come no matter what, and their generous patience in arriving enables me to enjoy the here and now, as it enables you.

I’m not just talking about savoring a party or a cool hangout. Savor a friend. Savor a coach or a teacher. Savor a class, and the room it’s in. Savor the food in the lunchline, or the trusty vending machines. Savor the walks between classes, and the trudges up and down the stairwells. Savor that feeling of anticipation, good or bad, at 8:45, and the feeling of release at 4:15. Savor it all. It’ll be gone before you know it.

Living in the present is something we all should do. For though each of our journeys are different, the destination, at the very end, is always the same. Hopefully, I will live a life that allows me to take heart in my final moments by remembering how little I blinked. And hopefully you will too.