Today a close friend of mine died.
He seemed to be ever present, ever entertaining.
He was a calming presence and knew just when you needed a lift up.
In a word, he was consistent.
He will be dearly missed.
He was a wasp named Wesley.
My wasp friend, though we never really spoke, did bring a sense of meaning to my life (and of all the lives who came to his funeral). I think it was his consistency that did it. Every morning, sitting down to breakfast, Wesley greeted us with a buzz. Now I’ve seen plenty of wasps in my time here and none have meant anything to me.
I think the difference is consistency and I think this consistency gives meaning. I’m going to talk a bit about why I think this is based on my summer experience and then dive into how consistency is a huge part of the Oregon Extension (which we call the OE).
This summer, I lived at the base of Rockies in Boulder, CO. Coming from the flat farmland of Indiana, the landscape was breathtaking.
Every day, as I drove home from work; I was in awe of towering figures crowding the sky.
Was it the fact the landscape was so unusual?
Coming home to Indiana after a long summer away, I cherished seeing the red bricks, red porch, and red car I associate with home.
Was it the fact the landscape was so familiar?
In either case, I think consistency is the bedrock fo our source of meaning and wonder.
Without my lifetime of exposure to the flat farmlands of the midwest, I would not be shocked and awed by towering mountains.
Likewise, without my consistent exposure to and then absence from, home, I would not give meaning to silly things like bricks and deck paint and car color.
Here in Oregon, this sense of consistency is deeply present. You stay with the same 25 people for a whole semester. You are in a new, breathtaking place.
You are consistently challenged in your thinking (yes even in the first week).
You are consistently cared for by professors and peers alike.
There’s a stability here. A calm.
I hear the same gravel crunch on my way to class every morning, hear the same rooster interrupt lecture an hour later, see my favorite dog (her name is Kuma) shortly thereafter during discussion at a Prof’s house and I make a killer meal with my cabin mates to end every day.
Our days are full of good books, good food, and good thinking. It’s odd because I worry if I will be able to bring these consistencies home.
But maybe I shouldn’t worry so.
Wesley, a wasp I only knew for days, imparted enough meaning for me to write about and remember him. I think the chances are good I will remember the consistent thought and care I give and am given here.