Senior Wisdom: Brendan Hannon
Written by Bwog Staff
Claim to Fame: I’ve been a freshman RA for three years, so I have close friends in every class. I’m a steps hippie; you’ve probably seen me on the steps playing music with some of my friends when the weather warm, or just bundled up mid-winter trying to generate some vitamin-D.
Where are you going? Right now, the plan is to go out west to visit some friends in New Mexico and Colorado. If I find a job out there, who knows, I might stay. Otherwise, I’ll end up working my way back east and I’ll try to get an entry level job as a geologist. Really though, there’s too much of America, not to mention the world, that I haven’t seen yet. I don’t know where I’ll be exactly, but to quote Calvin, “It’s a magical world, Hobbes, ol’ buddy… Let’s go exploring.”
Three things you learned at Columbia:
1. The Sophomore Slump does exist. The cure is to find something you love studying and the people with whom you can do what you love. It’s not an easy cure, but it’s doable.
2. People are interested in things that are not just boring to you, but seem to be absurd wastes of times. Then you realize what you’re interested in is mind numbingly boring to them. I learned how to respect them, but not before telling my CC professor why I wasn’t interested in comparative literature and listing off the things I would rather do at our class dinner after (at least) one too many beers. Man, I wish I learned that earlier.
3. “Your life has a limit but knowledge has none. If you use what is limited to pursue what is infinite, you are in danger.” – Zhuangzi. I first read that in Professor de Bary’s Colloquium on major Asian texts, and it’s really resonated with me. Four years here has taught me that I can’t try to learn everything, but if I learn a few things I enjoy well, I’ll be happy.
“Back in my day…” the Manhattanville Campus expansion wasn’t a sure thing, and NoCo wasn’t a thing. Instead of bedbugs in John Jay, we had baby mice. The roof of SIPA was a great place to go with a friend and bring a growler. Then people started leaving piles of empty bottles up there, so The Man locked it up. I’m not bitter. No, I am.
Justify your existence in thirty words or fewer: I’ve found friends and activities that make me deeply and genuinely happy. I try to be the sort of friend who will make you happy, too.
Is the War on Fun over? Who won? Any war stories? As long as Columbia students will try to have fun (always, I think) and the Columbia bureaucracy will try to cover its liabilities (always, I know), there will be a War on Fun led by The Man. I have an interesting perspective on this as an RA. I can say this: there is no overt war on fun from Res Life. The Man is not that obvious.
The Man’s workings are subtle, but here’s what I’ve noticed. There are Agents of The Man. I’ve met them, I’ve shaken their hands, and I’ve played their stupid ice breakers. These Agents of The Man claim to love fun, but they love a debased, diluted version of fun. The Agents’ role is to bring those people who enjoy less diluted fun to The Man’s attention. Then, it gets frightening. See, though The Man lives inside the bureaucracy, a lot of the people who run the bureaucracy are wonderful people who really do love the good, pure fun, but somehow, The Man works his will through them. Terrifying.
Personally, as an RA, I’ve always tried not to bring The Man’s attention down on anyone. And if you were wondering, yes, I’ve received my scars from the War on Fun. I won’t go into any depth, but let’s just say one Slip’n’ Slide party ended too soon.
The bottom line is I’ve had fun all of my four years. If your fun doesn’t hurt or bother people, chances are, it will never be brought to The Man’s attention.
Would you rather give up oral sex or cheese? I struggled searching for an answer that didn’t seem insincere or perverted until I realized that giving up cheese would mean no more Spicy Specials, ever.
Advice for the Class of 2015:
Every now and then, take some time and make two lists. On the first, list your top priorities. On the second, list the things you spend the most time on. They should match pretty closely; if they don’t, figure out which one needs to change, and start working on that. It might make you happier.
You have four years at an amazing university, and you can determine what you make of it. Look around as much as it takes to find the things that bring you joy and make you feel productive. If you haven’t found something that you love by the time you leave here, then either you didn’t look hard enough and I’m sorry for you, or you’re really hard to please and I wish you luck.
Do those crazy things you want to do deep down. Just maybe not the ones Freud claims you want to do. Not that deep.
Take vitamin-D supplements in the winter. They’re more important than you think.
Any regrets? I wish I had got back into music earlier than I did. I wish I had taken a photography class and the diving phys ed. On the flip side, I’m glad I know what I missed out on, and life doesn’t end after college, so there’s time yet!