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Musings of Impermanence

By Chloe Jad

Photo by Pinterest

All my drawers were open, and my skincare was slowly falling prey to a harsh selection process. My carry-on lay gaping open on the floor, expectant and ready to swallow all my clothes.

It was the eve of Thanksgiving break. Airpods in and head violently bopping, I was rhythmically packing, folding clothes, rearranging items; everything was fitting beautifully into my suitcase. The satisfaction of a successful last-minute pack was making my little dorm concert that much sweeter, until an intense flash of thought cut through the music, and I froze for a second.

Everything fits beautifully into my suitcase.

I had packed myself up. I could simply pack my belongings up in a suitcase, and leave. I could fill a suitcase with everything that belonged to me and disappear, away from BU, away from Boston, away from whatever version of my life was currently in the making.

It was a rather straightforward realization, but it was the tributary thoughts that trickled from it that kept me frozen in place, music still blasting my eardrums; If I could theoretically just pack up all my objects and, essentially, my physical identity with them, what did that mean for my sense of belonging? If I could zip up a suitcase and leave, what did that mean for everything I had established? Was everything I had set up in Boston really all that permanent?

Ah, yes, here we enter the existential-crisis line of thought.

At BU, my daily rhythm of life had a certain flow, a tempo that I had grown so accustomed, one that melded into the very structure of my identity. My friends, classes, meals, music, emotions, my fashion — it was all BU-coded. Suddenly, I realized I was now me, but at BU. This would be my first time going back home since coming to college in Boston, but I found myself having trouble even with the word “home”—a word that now also defined my dorm room.

I had to deal with a sort of split identity. A new question came to mind: what concrete concept can even give us this kind of belonging if, truly, I could pack it all up and relocate to North Dakota, if I could exist absolutely anywhere? I had already done it to come to BU. This very dorm and its address would be someone else’s identity soon enough.

The thought was overwhelming; the impermanence scared me.

But then a warm optimism grew in my chest, replacing the clammy, questioning dread. Everything was impermanent… (and no, no existential crisis accompanied this one). Everything was impermanent!

Terrifying? Yes. But, how wonderful to realize that nothing was set in stone, so that any struggle we could be going through or elements of our lives we dislike are subject to change — and one thing everyone has is the agency to try to enforce change for the better.

We have the power to change — that is incredible. Existence is always ebbing and flowing, and it would be a crime to restrict ourselves to any one place, one job, one identity, if we possess the privilege and desire to change.

Satisfied, I returned to my head bopping and zipped up my suitcase.

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