It is spring break week, and the students are all gone, so campus is pretty well deserted. For those with a mind to take photos, spring break is an ideal time to get outside and get some shots of campus that don't have lots of people in them. Better yet, the weather was insanely warm; with highs in the 70s F, it felt more like summer than springtime.
And even better YET, the morning light was absolutely fantastic. The sky was blue and the light was bright and contrasty, just perfect for photos. I had a commitment on campus in the morning, and before that, I walked around as though one in a dream, taking pictures of everything. I had to. Everything was beautiful! The perfect light painted beauty on (and around, and behind) everything it touched!
I parked near the Arboretum and walked through it on my way. As I was crossing the little walkway that I so love to photograph, the bench was casting marvelous shadows, and I decided that I wanted to try to see them up close and personal. So I lay down on the walkway with my face pressed to the boards to get a new view (let's just call this face-down photography); you may see it in the extras.
From there, I visited one of my favorite reflection spots on campus: the Business Building at the corner of Shortlidge and East Park. On this morning, there were very few people around. Mostly campus physical plant folks, plus a skeleton crew most everywhere else. Inside, I could see two women talking. The woman on the left was a cleaning woman; she was standing with her chin resting on her mop.
The woman on the right appears to be a nun, but I don't think she actually was one. Unless nuns have taken to the habit of hanging out in the Business Building. (Hey, I have no objection to that. I've got nothing against nuns in the hallways of academia.) But what I noticed was that they were neatly framed by the tree reflections from the outside. I liked that, and so the inside/outside view is my main shot.
When the light is really nice, it is tempting to photograph Old Main, our chief administrative building. And so I did that. You can see one of my Old Main shots in the extras as well. Take note of how marvelous the light was. It may have been some of the best light I've ever seen!
But something else happened on this day, something besides the pictures, that I have to tell you about because it touched me so. I was walking around South Halls because I am trying to explore places on campus I have NOT photographed yet. And apparently I do not now, and never have, hung out much in South Halls.
I was admiring a particularly shapely tree and the shadow it was casting on a brick wall, when a man in a blue shirt approached me and began talking to me as though we were old friends. He told me that he is the residence life person responsible for two of the dorms there; and that what this is like is like being a parent to about 1200 young people.
He said that the most important thing is that we help these young people understand the greatness that is within them, and nurture their potential, for they will do things in their lifetimes that we cannot even imagine! He said it is hard being a student these days, very stressful; to have to decide what to do with their lives and pick a career - who even knows at that age? The students put down a big chunk of change to go to school, and they end up with a staggering amount of debt, so it had better be worth it. He said he is 46 years old and STILL doesn't know what he wants to be when he grows up.
He said that there are problems with politics (and we both growled our agreement at that; Penn State is poised to lay off over a thousand employees, most in ag sciences, in the coming months due to a budget stalemate at the state level that has prevented us from receiving our annual allocation that supports those activities); he said the politicians are all the same.
He said that we need to teach our students to unleash their potential to become LEADERS who will make a difference in the world. And yes, he told me that they WILL make a difference. As we parted, he was nodding his head Yes, as he left me: "Yes they will. I have FAITH."
Now, I do not know this man's name and he did not ask for mine, but our little chat made me want to stand up and holler out a Hallelujah or two. His words and his passion inspired me. I can tell you that I have lots of faith too. And one thing I believe is that THIS MAN is in EXACTLY the right place, doing exactly what he was meant to be doing. Whatever he may have thought he might do when he finally grows up, I think his passion has led him to his true calling.
And so it is that this posting, which began with mild-mannered optimism due to extraordinarily nice weather and beautiful light, should end with two of my favorite things: faith, and hope. Rock on, my brothers and sisters. Rock on!
I wanted a song to accompany this posting that included the words inside or outside in the title, and somehow I've ended up with two songs that feature one or more of the Bee Gees: the Bee Gees, with Love You Inside Out, and Barbra Streisand and Barry Gibb with The Love Inside (from their marvelous album, Guilty). Somehow, both songs end up being about love, which pleases me; for it is love, you know, the fuels the fires to put faith and hope into useful action.