This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
By David Pendery
That returning to college after a hiatus of ten years of more can restore a person’s youth is no secret. My return to college, at 30, has renewed me this way. There is something about studying past my bedtime, winnowing through college catalogs, making career plans, or listening to a really good, inspiring instructor that has put a wildly youthful gleam in my eye. Yes, I even enjoy the youthful—perhaps simply childish— exhilaration of receiving a professor’s praise for an assignment well done. These are some of the restorative rewards I have enjoyed by returning to school. But, these pleasures aside, a more intimate facet of my youth, once overlooked, now embraced by me, has been my dearest reward for giving myself this second start in college. I could sum up this element of my youth in the phrase, “I can do it.” Does that sound glib? I do not mean it so. For this reward is not simply sweeping youthful enthusiasm (i.e. “I can do anything”), but the recognition and cultivation of a single, unrealized ability, a little plot of possibility that I had for too long allowed to lie fallow. This forsaken ability had been so natural and reliable to me as a youth that, after high school, I found it confoundingly easy to let go. I realize that these are disquieting words—they are an admission of abandonment. But I am back now, honing my neglected tools anew. And I can do it. Not revealing my resurgent ability would be unwise of me. The ability is writing, and, fortunately, writing stuck by during my twenties, while I was pursuing other dreams. Even then my somnolent ability often roused, and I found myself speaking with friends of the appeal of journalism and a college education in that craft, though I cagily qualified my comments, and minimized my potential to achieve that goal. But such selfabridgment is behind me now. Perhaps I could have been a better journalist had I started at eighteen, taking my carefully polished high school essays the next logical step and
© David Pendery
studying writing in college. But I did not study writing, instead embarking on my illstarred, unfocused, drastically foreshortened first attempt at college in autumn 1978. And the less said about that single, sorry semester the better…. But I am back now, sharpening my tools, tilling new ground, reaping new rewards. I have indeed taken a most circuitous route to reach a most obvious destination for myself. And the reader no doubt appreciates the paradox of my journey. For, at 30, I had made my way to an end, only to find myself at the beginning. But I am happy to be here, back at the beginning, starting again. And if I am merely allowing myself to do what I should have been doing all along, then so be it. Because now, well, now I can do it.
© David Pendery