Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Late Night Philosophy



            Since I arrived, I’ve been struggling to find out how college is different from home.  Much of it seems the same—daily practices, activities, and schoolwork are relatively easy transitions.  I’ve found that the real difference lies in the people who you’re with.  No longer are you living at home with your family, you’re in a dorm with your peers.  You live together, eat together, study together, and sleep together.
            Yesterday, for the first time in my life, I was apart from my family for Rosh Hashanah.  I was raised Jewish; in fact, I attended Jewish day school for 9 years.  I’m well educated in the Hebrew language as well as the verses of the Bible.  I’ve studied the Talmud and learned about the countless traditions of the Jewish people.
            After I graduated from Krieger Schechter, I went on to a high school with a much different demographic.  While mostly Jewish, the school was littered with liberal thinkers.  The concentration of agnostics and atheists was overwhelming.  Here I was exposed to opinions and beliefs far different from anything I had previously encountered.  I was forced to question everything I knew, or rather, thought I knew.
            Over the next few years I developed a very strong Jewish identity.  I am by no means religious, and my observance has undoubtedly decreased in that time.  Yet, I still feel an incredible connection to the Jewish nation.
            This brings me to Sunday night.  The campus Chabad house was hosting a Rosh Hashanah dinner for students and I decided that I would like to go.  I asked my roommate if he wanted to join me, but he declined.  The Jets game was on, and besides, he didn’t believe in religion.  So I went, and he didn’t.  That was the end of that…or so I thought.
            When I got back he asked how it was.  I said it was fine.  He proceeded to ask if I believed in god. I said no.  So why did I go?  I tried to explain to him that while I don’t believe in the Jewish religion per se, I find great comfort in the community aspect of Judaism.  He thought that was bullshit, and I agreed to disagree.  We called it a night and went to sleep.  And so begun Late Night Philosophy.
            The next morning, he hadn’t finished.  He couldn’t believe I bought into this religion nonsense.  As we walked to class, I tried to explain myself once again, citing my religious background and elaborating once again on my personal belief.  I thought I was actually getting somewhere when our conversation was cut off by the fork in the road between our destinations.  I had a feeling it wasn’t over though.
            The rest of the day we avoided the topic, but around 1:30 we climbed into bed, and we started over once again.  After we finished our debate on religion, my roommate conceded that my points were interesting, even though he still fundamentally disagreed.  From there, we moved on to discuss topics even more abstract.  From the meaning of life, to death, and even love, we were really on a roll.  Finally, at 3 A.M. we called a quits.  He gave me a preview of his theory on space and time, but we agreed to save it for another night.
            In the end, college hasn’t been that different from home.  I eat, sleep, go to class, and do homework.  I hang out with my friends and play basketball in the gym.  Even my Chipotle servings per week haven’t been noticeably affected.  But there’s something about getting into bed every night and knowing that a conversation’s awaiting that makes every day a little more exciting.  So I urge you to give it a try.  Ask your roommate the tough questions.  You’re not going to agree on everything—that’s the beauty of it.  Step outside the classroom and away from your books; there might be even greater learning opportunities waiting for you just across the room.