*I preface this post with the fact that I’m from the generally gnat-less New Jersey suburbs
Those ubiquitous gnats at Yale. You know what I’m talking about. Don’t pretend like your room doesn’t have some.
Freshman year — I stared at the first one with an offended grimace. Where was that thing from? Was there a pile of dung festering somewhere in my room?
Upon following it with my eyes, I soon discovered its source — a half-finished cup of coffee left unattended for a mere few hours.
I soon learned that Yale gnats detected even the smallest hint of food and attacked every perishable drop in these dorms. This did not happen in my room back at home. I could leave dirty dishes from midnight snacks piling in my bedroom — yes, guilty, I’m sorry — and I would never encounter a fly, at least for a few weeks. A fly at home meant serious business and usually prompted a frantic search for its cause–which was usually something big, like a gallon of sour milk left in the sun in the living room. Something wild like that.
So I first saw it in the gnats: how vulnerable we are here, at Yale, to the smallest exposures of our weaknesses–of our rotting selves. When we relax our vigilance even just slightly, there appears a gnat, and another gnat, and another gnat, and another! until there is some serious gnat-terminating to do. Slip into the habit of a particular sin, and social pressures and the culture at Yale will tempt and feed it, much more speedily than the haven of your parents’ home will.
I guess I will speak a bit more straightforwardly. As a junior, I’ve found that I can spiral into sin (by “sins” I don’t mean a Christian list of forbidden things; I mean things that are rooted in selfishness) very quickly at Yale, either by justifying it with a new ideology I discover in class or in conversation, or by distracting myself from self-evaluation with work or my social life. At home, as a high-schooler, I would always return home for a dinner conversation with my parents, who would repeatedly remind me — perhaps not with explicit words but just with their actions — of what is good. At home, because I wasn’t constantly surrounded by my best friends, I had no choice but to face myself — and, given my tendency to ruminate, evaluate myself — at the end of every day. Yale, on the other hand, allows me to quickly take my flirtations with sin to the next level–even before I am aware that that is what I am doing.
So. Beware of the gnats. They pick up rot pretty quickly here. They also multiply super fast. Take care of them quickly, and learn to pick up after yourself.
(I have to add that Yale also helps you to clean up those gnats and the festering messes that cause them. I’m thinking: friends, intellectual vigor, fellowship, mentorship, Bible studies…etc.)