Steve shares his parting advice: 'remember'
The day I started writing these things, I told myself I would do anything I could to avoid the whole “sappy final column” headache. I suppose it just felt too much like those far-too-convenient final episodes of a TV show, except not in the cool way where people get killed off — more like the mundane clip shows where everything gets resolved and “Good Riddance” by Green Day plays at the end. Gag.
That being said, there are some tremors you just can’t shake, which is why I knew this day would come and I would be sitting here at this desk finding the best possible way to send myself off from an experience so full of memories and lessons, it could fill its own “Chicken Soup For the Soul” volume.
I went back and counted. Between sports, editorials and this weekly piece, I’ve written 104 columns for The Statesman. By happenstantial estimation, that is roughly 70,000 words printed and snuggled around my human–Silly–Putty of a mugshot all in the hope that people — and it really didn’t matter how many — would stop for a small handful of moments and read them.
Now, I am not asking you as the reader go through all the effort to bethink 70,000 words — most of them just fleeting ’90s references — but I do ask you to embrace just one, the only word that matters in the grand scheme of everything: remember.
To this budding columnist, that is really what matters. We do what we do now because someday later, it will be of value to us. When you break everything down, rid yourself of every possession, privilege and nuance, all you have left are your memories.
It’s honestly why I even started this column. I feel we all personally see life in a different format, and for me, life is a sitcom, a collection of idiosyncratic stories and laugh tracks — those stories not connecting to each other so much as they do to those who watch them. I walked into The Statesman office aspiring to produce those episodes to the masses. I remember giving that pitch to former adviser Jay Wamsley, who pointed me to the features editor desk and gave me a chance to do the one thing I sincerely thought would allow me to make a difference.
Four years later and I’ve produced every episodic topic from Slurpees and Netflix to the 2012 election and Proposition 8. You heard my heartfelt diatribes about my world of fantasy football and breakfast cereals and got to know all about my several triumphs and defeats in the world of dating or my all-things zany friendships — including Mike, who is in more than 20 of my columns and is, to clarify a question I get all the time, a real person. I even started a fan club. Heck, I once wrote a column about not knowing what to write my column about. It was the most haphazard barrage of catchphrases and knee jerks with the most “you-had-to-be-there” style of humor that it made you wonder if I was even there.
And I did all of it for one reason. I wanted you to remember it, and maybe even use it to aid in remembering something about you.
That’s the credo I lay as I walk away from 120 fun–filled weeks with this publication. Remember every moment you can. Write it down. It doesn’t matter how long or how eloquent, as long as you find the courage in you to go back and look at it every now and again.
Share those memories with those close to you. Create new and unique memories for yourself instead of laying out a stream of #AggieStrife tweets about there being “nothing to do in Logan” when there is a wealth of smiles and ideas out there.
Always add more characters to your memories, those characters generally coming in the form of friends — which, it turns out, are easier to attain than you realize. As it turns out, all you have to do is be yourself.
Be willing, as hard as it always is, to even keep the less-than-enjoyable memories in your book, because as impressive as it is to show off what you have accomplished, it says so much more about you as a person to share what you have survived.
Remember everything, all of it, and tuck it in your pocket as proof that everything will be fine, we’ll always be happier in the end, and when we spread all those memories out on the table and look back, we’ll all find we just might be cooler than we really thought we were.
In considering how I wanted to end this journey, I looked back on the very first line I ever wrote for The Statesman, and was eerily enchanted by just how full–circle it was: “Every life seems to revolve around change — the only constants being death, taxes and Joan Rivers having cheekbones sharp enough to slice various cuts of meat.”
Change is always a good thing — except, quite possibly, for Joan Rivers. The columnists of Statesman future will most assuredly be a gift to us, because every story is worth telling and every word matters.
– Steve Schwartzman is a senior finishing a degree in communication studies. With eight years of column writing and improvisational comedy under his belt, he lives to make you laugh. Send thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org or hit him up on Twitter @SESchwartzman.
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