Since we’ve all taken high school English, I’m going to go ahead and assume we’ve all read (or at least skimmed the Sparknotes for) Homer’s epic “The Odyssey,” which tells the story of one extremely unfortunate traveler’s 20-year journey home from the Trojan War. Homeboy Odysseus deals with all sorts of bad luck in his trip, including angry gods, ravenous monsters and bewitching sorceresses; seriously, if you think you’re having a rotten day, he’d trade places in a heartbeat. (Quick aside: In case you are currently impressed by the literary caliber of this column thus far, I assure you it shall now deteriorate into my trademarked brand of mindless drivel.) Now, I know it may seem hard to find any parallels between Odysseus’ lengthy journey and our own daily lives, but we have more in common than you might think. It is now that time of the year where each and every one of us must undertake perilously dangerous, extremely time-consuming and just generally awful expeditions on a daily basis. I am talking, of course, about Going Outside.
The dangers involved in braving the elements are perfectly obvious. Ice, black and otherwise, coats nearly every walkable surface, and gross slushy puddles lie in ambush every other foot, eagerly anticipating their chance to soak you halfway up the calf. Already over-aggressive Massachusetts drivers like yours truly seem to have acquired a new level of peripheral blindness, almost as if they can’t be bothered to scrape the ice off their side mirrors as well as the windshield (how curious). I myself have acquired the special talent of always walking directly into the wind (apparently the laws of physics do not apply to me when the temperature is below 20 degrees; I am truly a freak of nature).
Equally annoying is how much longer it takes to get anywhere. Just like how it took Odysseus decades to get home when it should’ve taken months, it now takes me fifteen minutes instead of five to cross just half of campus. The sidewalks are so narrow that obliviously oozing groups of first years now constitute an impenetrable barrier rather than a minor inconvenience during the rush to class. And on top of that, the aforementioned dangers require extra caution and, thus, extra time. This also just makes life more tiring — constant vigilance takes a lot out of you.
And of course, perhaps the most obvious Homeric reference of all can be found in our two dining halls, which despite their harmless appearance manage to affect the more dangerous aspects of both the Sirens and the Lotus Eaters; you’re lured in by the always-on-point tunes of DJs Carm and Dewick, and once you eat the food you never, ever want to leave the warmth and never-ending supply of free carbs. (If you can’t grasp just how perfect an analogy that was, embark on your own Odyssey over to Tisch to culture yourself.)
So, Jumbos, keep your heads up during this long, long winter; you’re suffering just as much as one of history’s most famous heroes, and things turned out all right for him. We’ll hope, of course, that you don’t finally return to your dorm room to walk in on your backstabbing roommate and cheating significant other, but if so you will get to slaughter them quite magnificently — a lá Odysseus — so it’s really not all that bad. ‘Tis the season, after all; revenge is a dish best served cold!