A jumble of ambition, a pang of fear, a sprinkle of nervousness with a side of excitement—this knot in my stomach is indefinable, but certainly familiar. It was there the first day of freshman year, a blurry, rainy day, and I am sure I was not the only freshman with an uncomfortable knot in my stomach as we scurried into North High’s unfamiliar walls over four years ago. It was there when fourth place in Battle crushed weeks of hard work our sophomore year and again when we experienced the same aching as members of the Junior Tribe and the Senior Street surpassing low expectations. It was there and kept us standing on the edge of the soccer bleachers during the thrilling playoff penalty kick shootout. And it was there even when Mr. Kaplan’s “Doogh” shower during Spirit Week made us laugh so hard that our stomachs hurt. But, what is it, this knot?
Searching for an answer, I considered Harry Potter, despite being a Potter newbie. One night, a wandering Harry experiences a similar ache inside him when he stumbles upon his reflection in an ancient mirror. Rather than seeing just the room behind him, Harry encounters his late parents, whom he’d never known, but always longed to have met. Entranced, Harry brings Ron Weasley to see his parents in the mirror as well. However, Ron only sees himself, older, good-looking, and successful. So, exactly what does this magical mirror reflect?
Here is a hint: The happiest person in the world would look in the mirror and see a reflection of himself or herself, exactly as is. The mirror’s enchantment is that it shows the most desperate desires of a person’s heart. However, viewing the most desperate desires of a person’s heart drives men mad. We are maddened by a reality that may be unrealistic. We are paralyzed by our own misconception of how life should unfold. We keeping looking into the mirror for answers, rather than living in those moments that tie those familiar knots in our stomachs. We keep focusing too much on what will be reflected, and maybe not enough on who we are. The best way to have that reflection gladden us, rather than madden us, is to live lives of meaning.
Being surrounded by our teachers, our parents, but most importantly, the Class of 2015, produces another knot, one that arises from an initial fear of stepping outside the comfortable microcosmic world that Great Neck North established for us. But, the knot loosens a little when I realize that the teachers who have empowered our desire to learn and inspired our ability to succeed, have all along been preparing us to enter a new world by arming us with confidence and knowledge to tackle life. It loosens more as I understand that our proud, wet-eyed parents have supplied us with the unconditional support and endless love that everyday teaches us how to love ourselves. And, the knot loosens even more as I see that the relationships we have built as members of the Class of 2015 equipped each of us with irreplaceable lifelong memories: shimming to Waka Waka, cheering on the bleachers.
Our paths have been intertwined for the past four years, yet we sit side by side in our matching blue caps and gowns, unsure if our paths will ever cross again, but also knowing that there will always be common ground to our paths. Bidding farewell to Great Neck North allows us to retain the great memories while still moving forward in our lives. We ambitiously move forward to change the world as adults rather than hold onto the past like children. And even as some details of our high school memories may fade, we will never forget that passionate ache inside our stomachs—nor should we.
Class of 2015, do not get stuck in the fantasy life that your mirror holds. Do not wake up one day when it is too late and realize you forgot to feel that ache in your stomach; realize you forgot to live. These knots are our joys, our sorrows, the moments that make us who we are. These knots bind us together. We live in those knots and those knots live in us.