“Seek the ‘So Life’ Moments”: Remarks made by Anne Evans ’12 at the 2012 Centre Showcase
May 1, 2012
As we sat watching the trains roll by, each sipping a cold beer from its glass bottle (whoops!), and talking about anything and everything that came to mind, I turned to Jennifer Griffith and said, “This is so … life.” And so the phrase was born.
It was the fall of our junior year, and we felt somewhat bold about our spontaneous decision to take a mid-week break from studying to simply go sit, talk and slowly drink a beer together. I know that it may not sound like the most memorable of moments, but it was. Because in that moment, we fully realized that while getting our work done was important, creating time for ourselves to sit back and enjoy the moments as they passed was even more important in the grand scheme of things. The work always—okay, usually—gets done. But moments present themselves and can easily pass if you don’t pause to soak them in. We listened to our heart tugs that night and allowed the moment to create itself. Leisurely conversing and laughing with one of my closest friends that October night as the trains rolled by is an invaluable memory made, a moment that was soaked in. It was ‘so life.’
What makes a moment ‘so life?’ A ‘so life’ moment can be whatever you want it to be—so for me, a ‘so life’ moment is anything that leaves a lasting impression on me. It’s a moment that comes alive and makes itself present upon remembering it. It can be a moment of learning, a moment of beauty or even a moment of sadness. Whenever you feel or see or hear or realize something that is presently moving or that has moved you—that’s the kind of ‘so life’ moment that I’m talking about. They either spontaneously happen or they whisper their potential to you through heart-tugs, asking you to follow your intuition and to seek the moment out. It’s a moment embraced.
It was about 5 a.m., and I awoke to an unfamiliar sound. In my jet-lagged and just-waking state, it took me awhile to figure out where the distant sound of a man singing/speaking over a speaker in Arabic was coming from. As I slowly woke, I realized that for the first time in my life, I was hearing the Muslim call to prayer, and of all places, I was hearing it in Jerusalem, the holy land of Islam, Judaism and Christianity. The call that I was hearing had been passed down through the generations, essentially remaining the same for hundreds and hundreds of years. Part of me wanted to jump up out of bed, pull the curtain back and look out to see if I could tell where the call was coming from, but another part of me encouragingly asked me to continue to lay there, to embrace the moment and to allow the beauty of that moment to sink in and consume me. And so I remained in my bed, eyes open yet unfocused on anything but the call as chills ran throughout my body from the recognition of the beauty that was in this moment. It was ‘so life.’
I had originally been hesitant to join, but as I felt heart tugs encouraging me to loosen up and to be a part of the memory, I quickly gave in. And so I flipped on the light, hopped out of bed and quickly threw on sweatpants, a sweatshirt and put my pearl earrings in. I quietly closed the door behind me and walked over to Olin with a couple of others on my hall. We met up with about ten others gals and, full of giggles and nervous energy, we waited for 3:33 a.m. to strike. And when it did, we all stripped down and hooped and hollered as we ran the Flame for the first time together. It was completely silly and in the whirlwind that was the next minute, all I remember is one of us almost wiping out as we rounded the Flame too quickly and being amazed at the astonishing speed with which all of us ran. It was absolutely hilarious. It was ‘so life.’
I raised my hand to answer a question in class on the first day of my 300-level philosophy of religion class that I had, for some reason, decided to take in the fall of my first year at Centre. As soon as Dr. Hall called on me and my answer was completely shut down, I practically melted into my chair. In a class of less than 15 students, and as the only first-year, I was pretty embarrassed. But it’s a moment that has stuck with me because of what it taught me: don’t answer questions in Dr. Hall’s class. I’m kidding, I’m kidding. That moment was a huge reminder for me to not only think before I speak, but to also make sure that I could confidently and clearly present the reasoning behind my beliefs. I quickly learned that if I planned on presenting an argument or making any sort of claim, then I had better be able to back it up. While it wasn’t a moment of beauty or of humor—at least not for me—and while answering a question incorrectly is something that I’ve unfortunately done over and over since then, it was a significant learning moment. And for me, it was ‘so life.’
“We don’t bite,” the woman said to Lexi. Lexi and I are both currently in Dr. Axtell’s Poverty and Homelessness class, and as part of the class, we pair up and spend an evening in a homeless shelter in Louisville. While we had had many discussions about what to expect and do and talk about once in the shelter, I had still been nervous. Lexi and I walked in confidently but were hesitant on how to begin a conversation with the women in the Day Room. Until Trisha, an outgoing and warm woman, broke the ice with those first words to Lexi. As we told her our story and she told us hers, Lexi and I began to feel completely welcomed and comfortable. There was a level of honesty and openness within that room that I have rarely felt anywhere else. No matter how much we studied the shelter system in class or how often we talked about that fact that all people are human and hopeful for the same things no matter their economic status, discussion could not have led us to the level of understanding that talking with the women in the shelter and spending the night in the shelter would give us.
We only caught a glimpse of what it is like to be a person who is homeless in the United States, but it was life-changing. As I laid down on my mat to sleep that night with a single sheet over me, my backpack as my pillow, the hall lights on and the sounds of snoring and the big screen TV blaring, I realized that I was, in that instant, being reshaped by this experience. My view of humanity had been altered for the better, as my eyes and my mind were being opened quite a bit more by this experience. This experience, and especially this moment of realization, was ‘so life.’
Many of you who know me may have noticed that I enjoy photography. I like to try to capture the moment. Whether that’s with disposable cameras that I have sometimes taken out to the houses, the small digital camera that I keep in my backpack or with my larger camera that Santa helped me purchase before going abroad, it’s pretty likely that I’ve taken your photo at least once, especially if you’re a senior. People often ask me why I take so many photos. To keep things simple, I usually just say that I feel like someone has to do it so that we have something tangible to trigger memories of the good ole days at Centre. And while that explanation is true, if we’re being completely honest, there is a bit more to it than that.
I remember becoming interested in photography during the summer after seventh grade, when I took quite a lot of photos at Camp Burnamwood, a church camp that I grew up going to in Irvine, Ky. I began to realize that, each day, there was either something around me or there was an event that had beauty in it—and I wanted to be able to share a glimpse of that beauty with my friends and family back home. As that realization matured, photography became more and more of an obsession and I began to notice more and more often the beauty that surrounds us daily. I’m not saying that I walk around constantly soaking in the world around us and being awed by its beauty. That’s far from the truth. I have plenty of moments of stress and frustration and sadness, just as we all do. But photography has been one thing in my life that has taught me to push myself to find something that I really appreciate in each day—especially during the times that are exceptionally difficult. In looking for the beauty in each day, I’ve also learned to push myself to seek out ‘so life’ moments. Again, many happen without my looking for them, but many are the result of listening to heart tugs and seeking the ‘so life’ moments as the opportunities present themselves.
First years, sophomores, juniors: I want to encourage you to seek your own ‘so life’ moments during your remaining time at Centre. Get your schoolwork done, because it is definitely important. But make time to make memories—and not just during the weekends. Listen to your heart tugs, embrace the moments as they come and learn to find love and beauty in each day. You are in a wonderful place filled with incredible people who want to see you succeed in a way that brings you happiness. Soak it in.
Faculty and staff: I think that I speak for my class when I tell you that I feel beyond lucky to have been given the chance to grow in a community like this one that is filled with so much love, support, opportunity and positive, forward-moving energy. Thank you for taking the time to sit and talk with students—you all shape thoughts and change lives. I can’t tell you how much the support of the faculty and staff whom I have been able to talk with, travel abroad with and work with has meant to me over these past four years.
Mom, Dad, Joe and Jack: thank you for supporting me in my time at Centre. For making it to as many soccer games and musical gigs as you could, for encouraging me to be confident, to travel abroad and to be strong in difficult times, and for loving me through the ups and downs. Words cannot express how much I love and am thankful for you all.
And last but not least, seniors: thank you. Thank you for making these past four years incredible. I hope that you have grown to love this place as much as I have, but more importantly, I hope that you have grown to love and appreciate the people who make Centre what it is. I can’t imagine spending four years with a better class. I mean it. Whether or not we realize or believe it, I know that we have all shaped each others experiences at Centre—and so I want to say thank you for making my experience more than I imagined it could have been. We are incredibly fortunate to have been shaped by such amazing faculty and staff, to have spent the past four years on a beautiful and energized campus, to have been presented with as many opportunities as we have been, and to have been blessed enough to share these four years together. I want to encourage you to set aside time in these last 19 days together to either write to or speak in person with those who have made your experience at Centre better. Who have you shared your ‘so life’ moments with? Be sure to let them know that they’ve left a lasting impression on you. As we are quickly learning, and as I am especially feeling in this moment, time is fleeting.
There are no guarantees in life and, as dramatic as this may sound to some of you, we really never know what tomorrow has in store. I want to issue a small challenge to this senior class: as we burst out of the Centre Bubble together, ready or not as we may be, let’s remember to seek out the ‘so life’ moments. Be courageous enough to allow beautiful moments to move you down to your spirit, no matter what your spiritual beliefs may be. Continue to tell people when they have impacted you in a positive way. Do not let the beauty of the world go unnoticed in your eyes. Soak it in.
Actively seek and embrace the moments that are ‘so … life.’
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Centre College, founded in 1819 and chosen to host its second Vice Presidential Debate in 2012, is ranked among the U.S. News top 50 national liberal arts colleges, at 42nd in the nation, and ranks 27th for best value among national liberal arts colleges. Forbes magazine ranks Centre 34th among all the nation’s colleges and universities and has named Centre in the top five among all institutions of higher education in the South for three years in a row. Centre is also ranked fourth in the nation by U.S. News for its study abroad program. For more, click here.