Monday, December 30, 2013

A Twinge of Regret

(This is Chris Evans, not my intern)
Our organization offers "internships" for college students during the summer.  I would like to think that our internships contribute to our students' educations but, in reality, the internships are mostly unpleasant "slave labor" in the hottest, steamiest, and buggiest months of the year when repeated rounds of string-trimming, lawn mowing, and herbiciding consume the students' days.

Most of the kids move on and disappear after they finish college, but a few stay in touch.  One of our previous interns is nearing the end of his doctoral program; he described a new subspecies of bird after doing field work in South America.

Another of our previous interns stopped by the office this afternoon.  He is close to earning his Master's degree in marine zoology - working on the effects of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  This young man is now 28 years old - handsome, bearded, bespectacled, and so much more mature than when he worked here as an undergraduate.  And, most of all, he is optimistic and motivated.  I bent his ear for nearly an hour, reveling in his enthusiasm, excitement, and professionalism.

I'm pretty sure that a lot of his demeanor has to do with his youth and the stage at which he finds himself in his career, but he brought back for me some of the same enthusiasm I felt when I was in graduate school at his age.

He also made me feel a little bit sad, too, because I've all but lost that spark.   


packrat said...

There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,
The earth, and every common sight,
To me did seem
Apparelled in celestial light,
The glory and the freshness of a dream.
It is not now as it hath been of yore;—
Turn wheresoe'er I may,
By night or day,
The things which I have seen I now can see no more.


Scott said...

Packrat: I know that my reaction was the natural reaction of a guy getting old. Thank you very much for sharing Wordsworth; he really sums it up perfectly.

robin andrea said...

Ah, I recognize that lament. I was an adviser at UC Santa Cruz for many many years. It was a daily parade of students who had dreams of a life ahead. And I could only regale them with stories of the life I had already lead.

Scott said...

Alas, I'm afraid we're of "that" age, Robin Andrea.

Mark P said...

I know what you mean about the spark. I guess it's a natural process.

Scott said...

Mark: In my case, I think there's more to it than just aging or maturing, but that certainly is a major component.