Idealism or Futility?

by Mostafa Kharbouch, UWCM
12th of July, 2022

I’m reminded of this image I once saw, with a pendulum tumultuously shifting between “The world is so fucked, there’s no point in anything” and “We can fix it if we try”.

We do so much, as a community, and yet, in a way, we don’t. 


I write this while my roommate Dipak tries to articulate the strings of his heart into those of his guitar, and I think to myself: this place surprises me every day. 


The moment I stepped foot on this island, I knew something ethereal had happened. I didn’t know what it meant or on what end of the spectrum of feelings it fell. This is not to say I know now; I still don’t. What I knew and still remain to know was the impact of this feeling echoing multitudes, regardless in which direction, that is, if in any direction at all.


Have I already manipulated the words? Did I already do it? Did I already write something that sounds sophisticated, but at its core, means nothing?


This is what I feel myself doing most of the time. People tell me I do a lot, but it all feels like a hollow shell to me, and I don’t think I’m the only one who feels this way. I’m not negating all the work we do. Events, conferences, and projects add to the richness of this community, no matter how unenthusiastically and last minute they were prepared. At some point though, it all starts sounding like a broken record. 


I’m reminded of this image I once saw, with a pendulum tumultuously shifting between “The world is so fucked, there’s no point in anything” and “We can fix it if we try”. This is how I feel living here. We are that damn pendulum. At some points, the rotation is so intense, you feel you’re about to shoot off to space and then free-fall back to the ground, crashing, hurting, burning out.


So, as frankly as I can be, I’m asking: is our “sense of idealism” killing us? Or at least those amongst us who pursue it? Are we lost in a paradigm of one step forwards and three steps back? Is the extra mile splitting us apart?  


When I go to bed to get the few hours of sleep I allow myself, I don’t have the energy to reflect, so I shut down automatically. It is rather in those impermanent and fleeting moments, where I escape the present and look right into the void. It is when I challenge the three minutes left to grab a coffee and a sandwich before first class. It is when a sunray gets chopped into luminous parallel lines through our school windows romanticizing English class. It is when I’m engulfed in the arms of those I care about, drifting into transient serenity. It is weekends after brunch gossip and/or walks. It is discovering that Apple Park is nicer beneath the sun during the day than as an existential dump at night. It is listening to music from home behind Mysa. It is in those moments where I permit myself to feel that everything is okay, where the pendulum slows down and stops twitching for a second or two. It never lasts, like all things, but it keeps me sane. It keeps me going. 


So, in all honesty, I don’t know what’s in the juice, but I refuse to believe that it is only the sum of our parts as a community. There is something beyond that; that something that steadies each of our pendulums once in a while, that something that keeps us going in spite of the idealism and in spite of the futility. 


Here’s my last heartfelt thought: Hug your loved ones stronger. Hold them longer. The second years have less than a hundred days left as I write this. Make sure to say the things you always brushed off, do that which a moment of hesitation made you not do, and keep adding your essence to the juice before it all becomes a distant memory.