David Harris ’12| Executive Managing Editor
At lot of time in this school was spent running at walls.
Some I chased after. Others I was pushed into. And a lot of the time, I followed the crowds in the same direction.
There are a lot of walls in this school. Some brick, some marble, but all the same in some way. There’s a wall by the gym full of pictures of athletes. Glass showcases and plaques as long as the main hallway itself. And like vandals who write on the bathroom walls, there was always some desire to make a mark on one of these hallways, albeit in a more legal way. And so the four year journey began.
Lacking any rhythm or reason, I stumbled half possessed and fully conscious of where I was going, whatever goal it was I was working toward. A marble and brick goal.
Essentially, it was a trap.
There wasn’t an alternative place to run, except right at them. To end up on the Athletic Wall of Fame, student council plaques and Tower certificates. I hesitated, I stuttered and tripped on my way, but when I didn’t pick myself up, it was someone or something else nudging me towards that wall. Any control I had was somewhat illusion, riding a log down a river current but still thinking I could steer it. Resistance was futile; it just lessened the blow when I ran right into the walls.
Success or failure didn’t matter, because when you run at a wall, you can’t avoid it. It doesn’t move and it never gives. I was always told that the only opponent that I could never beat in tennis was the wall, because everything I hit at it would come back right at me. And as always, the wall defeated me.
Running into a wall leaves no mark. Not a scratch or a dent. Instead of the intentions of placing a legacy upon brick, I lay dazed on the ground from impact, stuck inside the trap. And I looked up, and saw that the walls that surrounded me were just that: walls.
Complain as we want about the rat race for recognition, the allure of awards and a college application more worthy of a frame than our actual diploma, it exists because we let it, because we built those walls. Walls exist to confine, and that is all they really did.
They did it well.
Walk through the school and try to find my name anywhere in the building. If you look on the walls, you won’t find it. You can look in the athletic trophy cases; it’s inscribed on one of them. On the back side.
It only exists in stored file cabinets, placed where few will ever need to look. In Student Association files and Tower archives, where nobody will look for the name but instead for the work I did.
Google something about the Canned Food Drive at South. Of all the articles, the videos, you might find me in only one picture. In the only instance I’m quoted, I’m just “senior David Harris.” And despite the stubbornness I came into the school with of trying to be more than that, in the end, that’s all I wanted. Senior David Harris.
The allure of recognition, the draw of the adorned brick and marble, was something I thought wanted simply because I knew no different. In reality I wanted nothing more than to be able to fade into some sort of obscurity without the expectations of having to be the David Harris others would like me to be. Many people knew me by what I did, but hardly knew who I was; it’s much more preferable the other way around.
Sometimes I worried about how I would leave my four years here. What I wanted to accomplish, what I was to be remembered for, or remembered as. And at the end of it, I don’t want to be remembered as SA President. Not remembered as a tennis player, a Tower staffer, for grades or awards and jokes, any of that`. If someone were to ask about me, I don’t want anybody to say, “Oh yeah, he was SA President!” All I would ever wish for them to say is, “David Harris, he was a nice guy.”
But instead I let the walls that confined me also be a barrier to that. Nothing more than just a facade of brick and marble they were no place for me to place my faith and all my work into. Regardless, I found myself pinned with my back against the wall, because I stuck myself there.
In the end, walls crumble. Walls are redecorated. And one day there are no more walls to chase after, a day that requires a faith greater than the biggest legacy that wall could hold.
High school is a different experience. The odyssey that begins here ends in the same place it began, ending through the same doors we walked in at the beginning, for every single student that walks into South.
These walls will still be around long after we leave this place. All that matters is the person who walks out of them on the last day. No wall ever defines that. No wall can ever change that.