Although it wasn’t my first time at an event for students, it was my first time where the room seemed just perfect. Events for students are usually in clean and nice spaces, like a conference room, lobby area, or classroom. A place that has plenty of seating and mingle room. The room is used for the event, and tomorrow it’ll be used for something completely different. And the same is true for our information night for prospective students. But as I stood in the back of the room, I looked up and saw how much better this space was than any other I had been in before.
Across the ceiling hung lanterns in the shape of stars. Different sizes and heights they flickered over the room. They seemed to be strung up randomly and without the precise geometric patterns you would see in office or educational settings. Which makes sense because instead of a classroom being used for a social event, we were using a room that had a much wider purpose than anything on campus. After us there could be a wedding or a retirement party or a training session or just two kids sliding around in their socks while the grownups were down the hallway. And those stars would be hanging over all of it.
Looking up at the stars, lyrics from a children’s song came to mind:
When you with upon a star
Makes no difference who you are
Anything your heart desires
Will come to you
In case you don’t know the song, or the context, it comes from Pinocchio, an animated Disney movie released in 1940. A woodcutter, Geppetto, wishes upon a star for a child. It’s an audacious wish from an old, unmarried man. He wants someone to love and to share his toys with. If you have not seen the movie, I’m not going to spoil the adventure for you. Instead, let’s just stay with that wish at the beginning. That crazy, hopeful, ridiculous, loving, and what-was-he-thinking wish.
And then join me back in that ballroom, with stars hanging down over a room full of students considering pursing a graduate degree. Each person was believing in something audacious and taking a step toward that wish, that dream, that goal. And as I’ve said many many times in this blog, starting is the hardest part of the journey. Sometimes starting can be miracle.
That evening I said a wish for the students around me; that they would take another step the next day toward who they could be. And that whatever wedding, retirement, training, or sliding that happened next would be the start of something special.