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Volume 68, Issue 158, Monday, July 21, 2003


Life is a 'sink or swim' task

Zach Lee
Opinion Columnist

Things don't always work out the way we plan them. No matter how many hours we spend preparing for any future we can imagine, our most intricate designs are shattered in an instant by a reality we really know nothing about. Existence is simply unpredictable.

A lifetime of study can prepare you to be an expert in whatever field you choose, but it won't prepare you for the death of a loved one. On the other hand, locking yourself away in a room may protect you from most real or imagined threats of the outside world, but you may not be prepared to fall in love with the sunrise you see in the pages of a magazine.

Our happiness and pain will crash against the shoreline of our consciousness only to recede into the ocean of our memories. Hurricanes will come and ravage our sandy banks, but time and the winds of change will bring new sand to cover our scars. The sun will rise over the horizon, and then it will set. The only constant is change.

Along those lines, we have only one choice. We can be either a buoy or an anchor. A buoy floats on top of the water, and it lets the ocean take it where it will. An anchor stands firm at the bottom of the sea, watching sand and water continue to shift around it.

As a buoy, we resign ourselves to fate. Whether we refer to fate as God, destiny or luck, we let go of our own plans and we throw ourselves to the mercy of fortune. Buoys are buffeted by storms, tossed easily by an angry wind or an exultant wave, but they continue to rise above the ocean's waves. They are in constant danger, but they witness the stars every night.

As an anchor, we give nothing to fate. We are stubbornly ourselves even as the world makes room for us to move on. Anchors are strong, and they remain steadfast as hurricanes and waterspouts form on the surface. They are safe, but they are stagnant.

The currents and undertows of life are too strong for us to choose our own paths; our only decision is in how we let its inherent unpredictability affect us. Neither the anchor nor the buoy controls the ocean. Each of them only has the power to control its own existence as the incredible force of the sea continues to ebb and flow. Damming life is not an option.

So, choose. None of us has the power to control everything around us. The only thing we can influence is ourselves; everything else is manipulated by fate something we have yet to master.

I am choosing to be a buoy. I am choosing to be drenched by the sky's tears, and I am choosing to be lifted high into the air by happy waves. I am choosing to watch life take me away. You may choose to be a buoy, or you may choose to be an anchor. Only one thing is certain. In this unpredictable ocean of life, we must all get wet.

Lee, a sophomore English major, 
can be reached at


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