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The Variety of Life

So I’d like to first clarify that I’m currently on Spring Break and on my way to Tennessee for a week in the mountains (Yeah mountains!), which means this might not be the most connected and understandable post, but I thought I’d manage something productive. (I’m actually stealing my friend’s laptop momentarily to try and attempt a post as quickly as possible.) Did I mention it’s another 5 hours until we get to Tennessee? Anyways.

“I was within and without, simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life.”


In case you hadn’t guessed it, this is a quote from The Great Gatsby, (I’ve referred to the book before, it’s a personal favorite of mine.) I especially love this quote, and find myself thinking about it more than I suppose I should. Now, if you came from my background, going to college as a dual enrolled student would give a strong feeling of anxiety and yet also excitement. I came from being home schooled, to a private school of about 100 high school students, and now I go to a college of a rather large student body with a wide variety of people. Naturally, the difference can occasionally be a bit of a culture shock at times, and make you feel out of place. I often see all those faces of varying sizes, shapes and colors and wonder how mine fits into all that mess. There’s such an extensive amount of people that populate such large and minuscule areas alike, and sometimes it honestly blows my mind. When you come from an environment that is generally full of closely connected people and graduating classes of 15 students, being on a college campus is a huge difference. When people mention the massive population of the earth, it somehow never clicks in my head that billions of people live and exist. You become sort of numb to the simple numbers that you see on statistics, and start ignoring them all together. It’s only when you start to imagine these faces with the numbers, that each person is an individual like yourself, that just like you they go to school, live their life, get a job and work as they try to understand their purpose and reason for living. I know that this seems like a simple thing, people are all obviously very various, duh. But at times we take this fact a little too simply. The extensive mass of biological and psychological differences is outstanding in each person, yet they can still come together to accomplish similar goals and tasks. For some reason, I seemed to just realize the various differences in people as I was waiting at my college the other day. No one person ever looked just like the other. And while everyone was walking through their life, moving along like bees and ants, I sat there and watched. It’s something I enjoy occasionally, even though it is a rather strange hobby. Hearing random bits of a conversation, a laugh, a group chattering excitingly as they passed along, a person pacing while on the phone. Little things. I felt like I was inside and out, simultaneously enchanted, and yet repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life. Because despite being enchanted by what I saw and heard, there were times when I wondered what they were doing all this for. And if they did all these things in their life, trying to achieve what they can, I find myself repelled by it. How few of these people are going to be able to accomplish the things they see on television that they strive for. How small the goal. Yet, there are those who will. But won’t know why they ever wanted it in the first place. Why would I want to be like that? Where I attempt, and try my best, to reach for something that everyone else is reaching after, hoping to achieve something that won’t even satisfy. And I struggle with this too. Occasionally I just do things, not understanding why, but because I enjoy doing things, and I hope that they’ll help me achieve this sort of success that everyone else wants. And that is why it repels me simultaneously. However, I know that there are those who have bigger goals, visions and dreams. Something I strive to keep in my mind is the much larger, truer goal, something that some of these people have. That success in this life isn’t based on something that is defined by a person with a lot of money, or a good family relationship, or wonderful car and a pretty house. But it’s based on how you glorify the One who made you with a purpose in mind. The way I hope to base success in my life is by basing my actions on how they glorify God, and how I’m helping to reach out to others who are looking for a bigger purpose.

I first read this passage in the book and was instantly kind of absorbed in the novel, simply because, whether unfortunately or not, I find myself relating to Nick quite a lot. And this quote really sort of describes the way Nick looks at life. Nick Carraway, the narrator of the book is a very distant person who has always been told by his father not to judge someone without getting to know them. And naturally, as he grew, Nick followed this. As a result, he constantly found himself being around quite important people, but he never really achieved material success himself. As these people reached out to him as a friend, he found that they’d put their trust in him and pour out their troubles. He found himself being almost more of an observer on people’s lives than an actual participant. And occasionally, though I don’t really have famous people reaching out to me, I find myself being more of an observer on life. That’s probably a bad thing, but occasionally I find myself in that kind of state.

That’s pretty much my thoughts as I drive down a semi-wet highway towards the cold mountains of Tennessee. (At least cold for me.)

An Observer,

Josiah Serravalle


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