"What sort of things did you learn about life at college?" a young person once asked me.
I paused, cocked my head to one side, leaned back, and drew in a deep breath.
"College," I said slowly, "taught me the value of sleep." I paused while they laughed and I collected my words for the chaser insight.
College has taught me the opposite; I have learned to push my mind and body to the utmost, to crave the hours when I am most alert, when I am learning, reading, thinking, reflecting, praying, and doing. I sprint early out of the gates, and the dim twilight has long passed by the time my shadowy outline strains to hold back the closing doors of consciousness. There is too much to do, too much to learn, too much to see and be to afford myself too much sleep.
How odd. I, who often rebel against the clock, fight for every minute I can have in this life. Only a careful balance measures out the best quality time.
For some, college is the time to find our limits. We gingerly extend a probing finger, find that they are soft and, with effort, move them further. It is a time to overextend and find ourselves still on our feet, with some wind left for a final dash. It is a place to discover that well-placed efforts are more effective than outright brute-force. And when one enters upon the art of living fully, one learns the value of all things in life: rituals like prayer, eating, and small talk; the infinite beauties of nature and time; friendship, of honor, integrity; food, and company, and nights under the stars; and even of sleep.
This afternoon, I speak to scholarship winners about my college's honors program. Who are they? What will their lives be? Will they succeed? What is success? Will they be happy? What is happiness? Will they find God? Will He find them? Will sorrow, or work, or illness, or momentary weaknesses of will, or indiscipline, or pride, or desire, or unhappy chance deter them from their full potential? Or will they shine?
I cannot say; I will likely never know. So I will pray for them and sleep, for it is almost 2 A.M., and my day starts early. I may not wish to ever sleep, but I owe it to them at least. And besides, the body is also voting in their favor.