Run the Race as if to Finish

There are persons who shape their lives by the fear of death, and persons who shape their lives by the joy and satisfaction of life. The former live dying; the latter die living. I know that fate may stop me tomorrow, but death is an irrelevant contingency. Whenever it comes, I intend to die living.

— Horace Kallen

This is the end. How great a ride, an experience it was. Four years in Ithaca felt like one, and if it were any different feeling I wouldn’t have been as happy. As my friend who graduated last year pointed out, it’s a good feeling to not want to leave because the opposite, wanting to get out of Cornell as soon as possible, would mean that you made the wrong decision in coming here.

The diploma I just packed with extra care (as my mom says it’s worth $100,000), the tassel I lost then found twice today, the honor cords from CIVR, they all tell me it is time to go even if I want to stay. I will be on my way out tomorrow. It will be hard to leave. I depart, however, with the next three years of my life laid out for me (Teach for America then Master Public Administration at the Maxwell School at Syracuse U.) and hundreds of doors of opportunity open to me during a time in this world when certainty and security is a luxury. For that I can only be thankful.

As seems to always be the case, I tend to come away with different points, but never the main concept, from commencement speeches given to me. From high school it is the quote at the beginning of this blog, from David Plouffe: success means hard work, long hours, and dedication. But it is ok to turn away from work to pay attention to your family even though your family are the ones who will still be there when you forget about them, from David Skorton, Cornell President: though many people dismiss liberal arts because of its limited utilitarian value, the liberal arts are precisely what gives us the foundation to understand the world. Ethics as a basis for education is too often overlooked, and what one reads says volumes about who one really is. Want to know a person, ask them what they’re reading.

Thank you to my family, friends, faculty and staff at Cornell, Delbarton, and Far Hills who educated me, and those for whom I worked at the handful of internships I held.

Thank you Lisa for giving me the opportunity to write this blog. Thank you to those who read it once or a handful of times. Thank you to those who have consistently read each entry. Congratulations to the Class of 2013.

I guess this is it. If this entry were Dean Mathios’ address to the students of the College of Human Ecology, I would say I have just completed chapter 22 of the Book of Life. May the next scores of chapters be just as enriching, entertaining, educational, and edifying as the first 22 (may the use of my alliteration continue to impress me as well). And may I finish them with as much excitement, nostalgia, and reluctance as I have finished these chapters today.

I will miss these “good ole days on the hill.” To my Alma Mater: farewell.

9 thoughts on “Run the Race as if to Finish”

  1. Hi Alex!

    Thanks for referencing my words in your last blog entry! How sweet! I don’t really check this blog often, but I am glad I could read about your last days. It sounds just like mine! Good luck in North Carolina.


  2. Alex,
    Congratulation on your graduation, your accomplishments while at Cornell, and your sense of having enjoyed the experience.
    Best wishes for the time to come–the three years that you can envision and the time beyond that,the view of which is likely a bit more fuzzy.

  3. Congrats and welcome to the so called real world. The post graduation years can be some of your best – enjoy them!

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