The scene is a desolate wasteland dotted only by a few jagged peaks, one of them a volcano, and… a pterodactyl? A brontosaurus, with its signature long neck and (relative to its body) small head, joins his winged friend. Looking like a glorified golf club attached to a boulder, the brontosaur’s specks of eyes overlook a curious sight: a craft reminiscent of a flying saucer with the words “TIME MACHINE” painted on the side has touched down in this prehistoric era. Footprints in the sand lead away from the device and meet a scientist, equipped with the ubiquitous spectacles and labcoat denoting his occupation, walking towards the edge of the panel clutching a (presumably empty) gas can.
Describing image into text doesn’t do justice to the hilarious and witty comics crafted by The Far Side creator Gary Larson. It’s like telling someone the plot of a Three Stooges episode and expecting the same reaction as if they saw it on TV. Larson’s humor was nearly always spot-on, from the irony of a scientist genius enough to create a functioning time machine, yet stupid enough to not bring enough fuel to bring him back, to a a flock of grazing sheep with one enlightened, woolly protester bleating, “Wait! Wait! Listen to me! . . . We don’t HAVE to be just sheep!” He made his jokes with a unique – often surreal – style which kept dragging me back and back to his material as I was growing up. You see, my parents owned a small calendar with some of Larson’s work on it. I remember going to the sunroom in my house to pour over the bent and worn pages of the collection. When I first discovered it, many of the beginning pages were already torn out. Perhaps my parents (or an original owner of the calendar) found the same joy I did in the comics because the daily removal of the pages had come to a halt in April of some year. One of the strips in the calendar was the one I first relayed at the beginning of this tale. The same comic now sits in front of me as I write this – part of a gallery of the author’s works which I found in a coworker’s office. In it are the same beady eyes peeking over the sand dunes that I saw as a child; the same defeated look as the scientist walks away from his ship in search of fuel in era without gas stations (or fossil fuels for that matter). If I close my eyes, it seems like I’m transported back to that room – light streaming in the many windows through lace curtains, illuminating the page that lets me imagine the heat of that desert; the view of endless rolling dunes and the swish and crunch of the sand under his feet. Unlike the scientist in the comic, I always return from my trip.
I am at the beginning of the end, my fourth (and hopefully final) year on Bison Hill. Sometimes I feel like the scientist in that strip, teleported in a time machine to a place far away from when I closed the hatch and fired up the engines. Unlike that stranded soul, I have no reason to be upset about the place I am now. The fact of the matter is that time is a paradox. It seems like yesterday I was caught in the whirlwind of activity that accompanies OBU’s famous Welcome Week. Just a minute ago, so it appears, I was donning my green and gold beanie; yesterday, I was befriending my hallmates and just last week I was rushing to shower and get dressed for my one o’clock English composition class because I had overslept after a late night playing Risk. In the same instant, it seems like ages have passed since my friends and I made our first trip to Steak & Shake and spent the night dancing on a bridge; if you were to ask me I would tell you that I’ve been wearing my green scrubs since before you were born and it’s been about a decade since I sat down for my first Western Civ exam (that the allotted hour and a half lasted only fifteen minutes is an undisputed universal truth of time, however).
Yes, I’ve exhausted ways to explain it: time as a function is weird in college. As much as I might be absolutely ready for a week to be over, as ready as I am switch my payments on college over to payments on a house and as much as the senior class collectively sighs their wishes of their college education to finally come to a close – I’ll miss it. I think we all will one day miss it in some regard. For me, Bison Hill has been my home since the summer of 2012. Within the walls of its educational buildings, I have gained the knowledge that will prepare me for a long and successful career in a field focused on the care and love of others. But, OBU is so much more than the classes you can take and the degree you can achieve. I treasure, as much as the academic knowledge I have gained from my courses, the insight, joy and communion I have found with those who are here. A night beneath the stars with friends can impact you more than hours studying them in a textbook. That isn’t to say that learning is not an essential aspect of life, I would argue the opposite. My point is that college teaches you in more ways than one, and OBU has a knack for giving you experience in every niche of life. I’m sorry that I’ve rambled on for so long, (or have I written this in the blink of an eye?) but as happy as I am with my future and its prospects, I would be lying if I told you I wouldn’t like to step into a time machine of my own and find myself crash-landed on the steps of Raley Chapel in the sweltering heat of August 2012.