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Focus on the present

Adam Cahill | Wednesday, October 8, 2003

I’m sitting on South Quad with my back toward Main Circle and leaning against the flag pole, my feet and legs stretching straight out in front of me. I take a deep breath and take in what is around me. It is dark and there is no one on the quad but me. Why would there be anyone out at this hour? It’s 4 a.m. and I try to push that thought from my head, though, and focus on other things.

The Dome is brilliant tonight, even more so than usual. The majestically serene statue of Mary atop the Dome seems to command the rest of the campus. And for the first time in a while, the stars salt the sky above me as I lean my head up against the cold aluminum. The wind has died down from before into a soft breeze that barely disturbs the trees that line the path up to the Admissions Building. There aren’t too many nights like this.

A security officer on a bike rides up to me and asks if I’m OK. Yeah, I say, I just could not get to sleep. Don’t let your worries get you down, he says, it’s not worth it. Thanks officer, I say, I’ll try. He rides off down the sidewalk toward Rockne Memorial and disappears into the distance.

I come here sometimes when I cannot sleep. It seems like a lot more often as of late but I cannot figure out why. For a number of nights, I have had this feeling that there was something inside of me that has been mounting in pressure almost to the point of eruption. But for whatever reason, I cannot put my finger on it and it pesters me even more. The depressing questions of self-confusion have dawned on me and the answers are not coming. I know it has to do with more than just the major I dislike or the classes that require all my time. I think back on the decision to come here, more of a statement than a decision. It was always here that I wanted to go.

But why, I ask myself. Why have I always wanted to come to Notre Dame and why am I here now?

A light breeze stirs up the trees in front of me and almost as if I am subject to divine intervention, I know. The clouds of confusion and mystification clear and my mind could not have more clarity. I know why I wanted to come here, why I am here.

I wanted, or rather, want to be somebody. I said to myself that the dreamer is only as good as the dream. And I realize now that I have lived my whole life under the presumptuous idea that the world is going to need me to run it someday. And if it is not me who is running it, it’s going to be me that advises the ones that do. After all, is no’t a dreamer only as good as a dream?

But I realize now that keeping my eye on the ultimate goal never got me any closer to making it a reality. It was like trying to win a marathon by looking for the finish and not noticing the 26 miles I needed to run to get there.

Like all dreams, my ideas of life were large and without limit. When I was younger. I was going to play in the World Series and be mentioned in the same breath as the Babe and Cobb. I was going to go to break all the records in the book and then be elected president. I had it all figured out.

But looking at the Dome right now I am granted a revelation. I see that dreams are only as difficult to achieve as we make them. I become conscious of the fact that the loftier the goals, the more we need to do the small things to get there. We need to focus on what there is to do today instead of what there is to do tomorrow or a decade from now. Reading assignments, eating healthy and taking care of myself are all things that will help me reach my final goal.

Distractions got in my way then and distractions will probably get in my way again, but one thing is certain, I’m going to try and take it one step at a time.

And as I rise to my feet and cross the quad back to my dorm, the breeze that had died down picks up again, revealing the underbelly of all the leaves on the trees. It’s going to rain soon, I predict, but that’s no matter. I have work to do. But first, it’s time to sleep.

Adam Cahill is a senior history and American studies major. His column normally appears every other Wednesday. He can be contacted at acahill@nd.eduThe views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer