To the one starting, everything is a new adventure, with a “point zero” in which everything begins anew. For me, January 6th, 2016 will always be the day I started at Mercy College. Everything will be measured from that day going onward, a new life sprouting from a definitive point.
And yet, Mercy has not started anew just because I happened to pass through the doors. It is this thing, this 100+ year old thing, which has lived longer than any of us. It has multiple contours that each face points to, whether the face is walking through the halls or adorning the walls. How will my start join this life that’s heart has already been beating through many decades? How will the vision of “the veterans,” who have “seen it all,” match up with my eyes that see all things in a newborn glow?
And yet, I, too am this living thing that has been doing the sort of things that living things do, quite naturally and without thinking about it, for a fair amount of time as well. Everyday seems to remind me of something that I had already done is some other capacity. Indeed, among the many benefits of coming to a new job, an overlooked one, is this: all of my old stories and jokes are new again. I can be interesting to people once more!
Now this of course is simply the way of all things. To make a reference the young might not be familiar with, “this old world keeps spinnin’ round” (thank you, Mr. Young). We are born into it and we exit it, and to be human is to have new wine pouring into old wine skins continually, wondering how the whole thing doesn’t burst apart. It is a marvelous thing to consider, but a frightening one as well. It would seem to be why so many of us are scared of change, even though things change all the time. It is, indeed, one of the few things that never does change.
So how can it be possible to wed the new and the old? With good people. With care and attention. By finding ourselves reborn in other people’s rebirths, and learning to love again what we take for granted when other people see it for the first time.
My transition here at Mercy College has indeed been wonderful: even though my family does not join me until May, or I am away from my Mother when she is feeling ill, or this, or that, or many other things besides. The warmth of my welcome is a testament to the peopled history of this living thing, Mercy College itself. My greatest wish in return for this gift I have received is this: that, as I learn to love this place, you all will take the opportunity to see it freshly again with your own eyes as well.