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Rhythm Of Life

By Joshua A. Kaufman

Riding, riding, riding.

Riding, riding, riding.

Riding, riding, riding, crash.

Just going along, on two wheels yet. Just going along and thinking about courses, but trying not to think at all.

Just going along, repeating your legs, trying to cycle further, and minding your own business--generally.

Just going along, and of course the red light has let up, but since you're going along, you want to keep going. The inertia thing. So you do, and--unthinking--you, who has finally accomplished what you have set out to accomplish (i.e. lack of thought and pleasant meditation) are subject to the harshness of a crash.

A lucky crash over the edge of the cement onto your palms, now blood-stained. You think? Yes, but only about your blood-stained palms and what a close call it was. You think that you would have screamed at the driver, but that you sort of appreciated the wake-up notice.

Wake up.

Ringing, ringing, ringing.

Ringing, ringing, ringing.

Ringing, ringing, ringing, "Hello?"

The message from the night before might have clued you in, but you were expecting a call from someone else. So when he said, "Hi. This is a good friend of [your friend who died this summer in a car crash]," you didn't have much to say in reply.

Of course, he hadn't expected anything, and how were you to know what to say to the death (crash) of a friend (crash) now that the friend (crash) was no more (crash).

You were the intermediary in a sort of seance between him and his friend. Mutual conversation.

Out of nowhere it arises, and back to nowhere it goes.


"Smile." "Turn." "Purse."

"Smile." "Turn." "Purse."

"Smile." "Turn." "Purse." Flash.

Again, you were there, unprepared. Though there it was nothing tragic--only your senior photograph for the Yearbook. But here it was all of a sudden, like the rest; and all of a sudden, with a turn and a smile, and a requested pursing of the lips, your session was complete and your could leave the overheated, overwhelmed, overexcited, tension-filled room of Harvard fourth-years posing for their final portrait.

(The one that's going to be in The Times.)

Even the frumpy got dressed for this memorial occasion. Who knows? They too could be Theodore J. Kaczynski '62 one day. Or Bill Gates. Either way. What's the big difference? Both brilliant. Both ambitious. One frustrated. Crash.

Here, at the Yearbook Office in the beautiful office building sat the sagging shelves of volumes from years past for which so many groups of 1,600 sat for hours on end. They sat before the grey backdrop with a good, solid jacket and tie, or a nice blouse. Then they sat before the Harvard banner with cap and gown. And they looked studious. And some of them were.

Here, at the Yearbook office, above all the heavy breathing, you heard the flash.


A ring and a flash.

Ring, Ring. Flash.

That's what you get, if you get it at all.

A ring and a flash. Ring. Ring. Flash. Crash.

It really does have to be drummed into you.

Crash and a ring, and a flash and a ring.

Over and over again.

Crash. Crash. Crash. Crash.


" H e l l o ? "

Joshua A. Kaufman's column appears on alternate Thursdays.

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