Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Halfway Point

     The second year of college  is drawing to a close, a bittersweet reminder of how rapidly our journey through life occurs.  Standing on the cusp of the halfway point, realizing that the Dream is becoming the Reality, I am humbled and grateful-- humbled by the limitations of my own expectations, grateful for the goodness, hope, and compassion of others.  As my daughter has walked this academic path, she has discovered that she is not alone in her struggles and that there are many walking down her same road. That is, in a strange and awkward way, comforting to know. She is not alone. 
     The diverse and culturally rich student body at USC-L is quite different from most universities. I am quite sure of this, having just returned from parents weekend at my son's school, the University of Virginia, where every student was brimming with confidence, exuberant with life, eager to jump into the world and take control of the reins. They were all young and confident and certain that life held limitless possibilities, and they would be correct in so thinking. This is what we want for all our children, this is what our dreams are made of and where our hopes are placed. Oh, I do not begrudge my son for his world, it is the world I prayed and hoped he would find.  I only dreamed my daughter would share it with him, and I am saddened that their paths could not coexist.
     We live in a world where the strong and beautiful are celebrated, and our society is geared to help those who are most capable excel.  Doors are easily opened and opportunities abound if you are born gifted and talented. It doesn't seem fair that life should come easiest to those who struggle the least, but that is the cruel twist of irony called fate. However,  it is in watching those for whom life has not been easy that we discover authentic strength and lasting beauty, and it is there we find where hope and compassion are bred.
    Yes, the students at USC-L are different from those at UVA.  They are not all young and confident, and many seem unsure if life holds any possiblity for them at all.  They have not had all their dreams fulfilled, they have not had every opportunity knock at their door, and they certainly have not trod down paths strewn with hope and confidence.  Yet, here they are, pursuing a college degree, determined to forge ahead in spite of the odds, unwilling to be relegated to the outer limits of life.
       Greg, legally blind, a Stevie Wonder look-alike with his dark glasses and dread locks that reach to his waist. At age fifty, he has one year left before he graduates with a degree in Hotel Management. Danyelle, shot multiple times in his ankle and leg while serving our country in Iraq, barely able to walk to class on some mornings, but the most exuberant of students once he arrives. Leslie,  a young mother of six who sells fresh eggs, used cars and Mary Kay cosmetics to supplement her college fund. Grace, returning to college in her sixties, planning a second career with a degree in Criminal Justice. Mary Beth, Michael, James, Andrea, Annette, Brittney, Jamie.... the list goes on and on and on.
      Definitely, most definitely, Mary Lapsley has realized she is not alone in her journey. She has discovered there are many, many other sojourners who walk through life with heavy burdens,who trod along paths filled with pitfalls and obstacles.  But instead of becoming defeated or despondent, these travellers have become stronger by carrying the heavy load. I am humbled by their bravery, for I often fall victim to despair as I wonder about the future, about what the world holds for our children, about how life will treat them. Along their voyages and through their strifes, they have discovered depths of compassion, mountains of strength, horizons of hope. They have become warriors, mighty and strong because of the battle, and they will survive. 
   That is authentic strength. That is true beauty.


  1. Mary is an inspiration and a beautiful young woman inside and out! It is very obvious that she has been "taught" to love others and to be a positive force in this world! Both of you are such a wonderful presence at USCL and I feel lucky to have met you both!!

  2. Sometimes knowing you are not alone is most of the battle. This was a beautifully written piece. Thank you for sharing it.

  3. Wonderful blog & good post.Its really helpful for me, awaiting for more new post. Keep Blogging!

    Student Project