Toward the end of last week, I found myself walking past Café Clave up by 43rd and Locust. Outside the café was a small tree, newly planted, with a notice written on a beat-up piece of cardboard tied to the trunk. It read, “Please no bikes on this tree. This tree is too small.” Walking back toward campus, I pondered the sign, its origins and effects. Someone, with the knowledge that the tree could not fend for itself, took the time to write this warning. To them, it likely seemed a simple act, but it may have saved this plant’s life.
In the past week, I overheard many people discussing how Family Weekend could not have come at a worse time. We were all bombarded with projects, papers, presentations, exams, outlines and essays. That said, it occurred to me as I toured my family around this week that this time with them was precious. Family Weekend was our opportunity to show the people who care most about us where we are (physically, emotionally, socially and academically) and in what direction we are headed. We owe it to them to keep them informed about our lives, in both our successes and our failures.
Whether or not your family visited you this past weekend, you should make a sincere effort to keep in touch with them. Call them once a week to tell them about your adventures (at least, the PG-rated ones). Shoot them an e-mail and attach an assignment on which you worked particularly hard. Mail them a postcard, tweet them, poke them on Facebook, send them a Lobster-gram. A couple minutes of your time makes a huge difference to them. Do whatever you can to ensure they know you are alive and well. Without them, you wouldn’t be in the first place. Continue to branch out within the Penn community, but never lose sight of your roots.
Decades from now, when I return to Penn for a class reunion, I will make sure to pedal over to 43rd and Locust. Chances are the café will have changed hands by then. It may no longer even be a café. The tree, however, will stand tall out front, firmly rooted in the dirt under the concrete. Parking my bike against its sturdy trunk, I will marvel at its strength and beauty. Twinkling with wisdom, my eyes will watch as the vernal leaves of the tree wave with gratitude for the cardboard sign which once adorned it.
Humbly, I will wave back.