I will never forget the day I arrived at college. After traveling a thousand miles from home to a place where I knew no one, to a state I had never been, I was devastated when I discovered that I had left my best blue jeans at home. These were not just any pair of pants: They were carefully faded and frayed, and they fit me perfectly. And, yes, they were bell-bottoms. (It was the ’60s.) My college years were sure to be a disaster without those pants.
I now know, of course, that my anxiety about not having them was a displacement for other emotions, for the fear and anticipation of the unknown journey that was before me in college and beyond.
We normally think of journeys as events that happen in space—we take a journey from this place to that place—but the original meaning of the word “journey” comes from the word for “day”—diurnal—a measure of time. That’s why we think of a “journal” as a daily record of events, and of “journalism” as an account of the day’s happenings. It’s why we say bon jour in Paris. Early uses of the word “journey” actually referred to the amount of work that could be accomplished in a day (what a “journeyman” does), or to the amount of territory one could travel in a day (a day-trip). So a journey is first a measure of time, of what is possible, of what can happen over the course of a certain period.
As I reflect on the epic journeys documented in these pages—a 1,750-mile river trip on the Yellowstone and Missouri rivers, rowing across the Atlantic Ocean, paddling to the Arctic Ocean—it happens to be the day our new class of freshmen arrive, the Puget Sound Class of 2009. What will begin on this day for them is as exciting and treacherous a point of departure as that taken by our bold alumni. And I am not just talking about Passages, which starts tomorrow, or even the four years until graduation. On this day, as they leave the safe harbor of their familiar homes and families, in some mysterious dimension of time and space, these students dip their paddles into the cold waters of the Arctic with Emily Stirr ’04, lock their oars into the gunnels of a river dory with Andrew Marsters ’05. They join the century-long adventure of this college and the people who are creating it still, while at the same time they blaze new trails of personal discovery that will be uniquely their own.
All of us who come to this campus hear the call of great things and enlist in a journey in time that breaks new ground and makes a difference. As the Class of 2009 joins us in that adventure, we on campus are mapping out a bold and visionary strategic plan for the university’s future, one that echoes the call of great things and responds with ambition and resolve to all that is before us. You will hear more about it in the days to come. It will launch another chapter in our epic journey together. There are many miles to cover, and there are glorious challenges ahead.