The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Tuesday September 27th

Look Beyond Our Material Things


Just a few weeks ago, I gave a stranger a ride to Durham in my scraggly car. As I pumped gas, he showed me his wallet and cellular phone and said he had money. He just needed a ride to Durham because his car had quit quite unexpectedly.

Now, quite unexpectedly, my car has sputtered out for the time being. Gone is convenience through the automobile.

The ragged wallet I've carried much too long can go as well. The green bills inside that define my position, that determine the respect you hold for me -- I have decided to let them go.

The watch dividing my days, stealing my seconds and always reminding that time is fleeting has grown useless. The glasses that magnify these very words can't help me see what I need to see any longer.

Free, I am.

Free of all restraint. Free as when I came.

Free as when I'll leave.

In my nudity, I hold onto what was felt in these earthen years.

I hold onto what is remembered.

I hug tiny details closely.

Experiences remain. What was good, what was bad. What was everything in between. All the moments, happy and sad.

In the womb, I must have heard heartbeats. Rhythms reassured the tiny figure that would grow into this. The thumpity thumps constantly came.

After tearing from the womb, hungry for experiences, the heartbeat would be remembered. In times of war, in times of peace, the thump of the heartbeat was always there.

As a child, I forgot that sound. There were distractions. Distractions there always are. Distractions that can detract one from remembering the musical heartbeat.

Daddy distracted. Daddy was a mean man. Daddy overwhelmingly dominated my childhood days. But anger I hold onto no longer. Gratitude remains. Thank you Daddy for giving me something to escape. Thank you, for you forced me to hope for something better. And the cruelties you inflicted molded a great space for compassion within me.

To the children who laughed, I thank you. Adolescence can be a jungle. You all betted against me. Even your parents thought little of my potential. When I told them I was off to the best university in North Carolina, they stood in disbelief and asked how it was so. The look of surprise at my possible success saddened me. But like Daddy, they fueled my need to rise above all expectations.

Entering this higher educational institute has allowed much learning. But what I'm presently remembering matters most. In financial crises, I have grown angry. I have overreacted. At my very best, I'm able to remember the hope I held as a child. I remember how harsh the surroundings were. Yet I believed the experiences were worth living through -- for one day, I would be happy.

Now, when problems arise, I try to rely on that somewhat naive childhood hope. If a child can be so very resilient, surely an adult can do the same. If not, we can all at least try. In the middle of this earthly confusion, let us see the good. Let us focus energy on the light. Let us be the tiny rays of light that matter most.

Thus far in my tiny existence, many beams of light have served as guides. All encountered, you are the gurus. Teachers, you have taught me well.

My first mature love, you taught me of loss and appreciation. Our circumstances lent to a relationship that had to end; life sometimes pulls us apart. But we lived each day to the fullest and enjoyed each other well. You were confident with your identity and would have it no other way. Now, I can say the same.

My friends, or "chosen family" as one of them would say -- thank you. For sharing and making me love human beings so much, I'm ever indebted. Each one inspires and sparks interest in meeting others that will equally fascinate.

Thank you reader, regardless of how you feel right now or have felt in the past. Remember, we can learn something from every thought, every emotion. Different beliefs exist. Different opinions abound as well.

I like to think all paths lead to the same conclusion. We all arrive in equal fashion. And we all eventually depart. There is much pain in between. But I like to think the common driving force within us all will and does ultimately prevail. We are here to live. Live we must. Learning and growing awaits in the smallest corners.

In the end, the money doesn't matter. The material measurements of success fall short of determining how fully one lived. Instead, we hold onto the experiences; I am comforted by the constant heartbeat. I know the natural drum sounds resonate with deeper meaning. It is my belief that the deeper meaning rings true for all.

When distractions are gone, we can reflect on that deeper meaning. When there is nothing, there is everything.


Cameron Mitchell is a junior journalism and mass communication major. Reach him at Have a good Spring Break. Each of you will be in my prayers.

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