Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Stay Curious

Staring at the yellow club bow tie resting just below my teacher's scrunched chin, I sat listening to his systematic dissection of my final high school paper. "Sentence five on page three uses the passive voice, you should know better," the infamous Clint Darling said stroking his immaculately trimmed goatee. Years earlier, as lore had it, Gus Van Sant had sat in the exact same chair, enduring similarly pedantic conversations. Inspired by these exchanges, Gus based the teacher's character in Finding Forrester after this very same English teacher.

Having been accepted to Colby a few weeks earlier, I sat pleasantly disconnected from the well-worn editions of Homer's Odyssey, Romeo and Juliet, and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn stuffed into the built-in wooden cabinets. Like a snowboarder looking down from a fast moving chair at the long lines of Camelpack-wearing yahoos waiting their turn below, I glowed with a naive sense of accomplishment having made it through the gauntlet only to wait in a similar line after a brief ride down the mountain.

As if bringing a comma splice to my attention on page four, Clint chimed, "I don't think you're going to graduate from college." Pausing to look up from my paper long enough to capture the look of disbelief on my face, he added, "You are too used to getting by on talent alone and haven't figured out how to put in the work."

Before he could continue his would-be monologue, I fired back "Why do you say that?" buying time to formulate my pithy defense.

"As I said, you have figured out how to get by by relying on talent and perception more so than genuine hard work," he asserted, removing his wire brim glasses from the tip of his nose and letting them hang loosely from between his index finger and thumb.

"Excelling in the limited range of ability of academia is barely a test of one's hard work and resolve," I said, rocking forward and dropping the two front legs of my chair back on the floor with a thud.

Four years later I sat in my last class of college at 9:15 on a sunny Friday morning. Oscillating between hungover and my default school-time daydreams (perfected after 17 years of practice), and rambunctious at the prospect of leaving lecture for the last time, I felt the minutes drag on like a seven year old boy's sleepless Christmas Eve.

Viewing college as a much needed four years of excused unemployment necessary to explore passions more than the time needed to find a significant other from a painfully similar background and hopefully make inroads on a lucrative, consistent career, I set off from the onset to experiment. Not in the 1960s, Fear-and-Loathing-at-College way but in the what-keeps-me up-at-night-scheming way.

I tried trading stocks. I tried surfing in 36° weather. I dated blond girls from prep schools. I tried running a student laundry business. I tried selling shoes through Flight Club. I even tried to be a student. I tried taking pictures. I tried rowing. I tried to get better at telling stories.

Despite getting a handful of C-'s on both my academic and extracurricular endeavors, I kept going with the stubbornness of a poorly trained Jack Russell terrier. Slowly but surely refining my area of search, I continue to explore.

These photos were taken on Friday, May 7th with my iPhone 3Gs and Canon 5D Mark II.

Mark Twain once said, "Never let your schooling interfere with your education." I like this quote not because it takes a shot at academia but because it suggests that education is a long-term endeavor, limited by curiosity, not by time spent studying at a respected institution.

Stay curious.


Sean said...

Congratulations on your Graduation!

Foster Huntington said...

thank you sean. I am excited to start a new chapter of my life,

TWJ said...

Foster, continue with your passions. Remember that life is full of chapters and this is just another one at the beginning of the book.

Foster Huntington said...

I cant wait to start a new chapter. the excitement of new experiences keeps me passionate,

TFKoP said...

Foster, congrats on graduation and best wishes in your future. Maine will miss your great photos, stories and dare I say passion about our great State. However, where you land next will certainly be a better place with you in it.

Also, is it safe to assume that you were able to catch Mark Knopfler in concert? Several friends of mine in Philadelphia (where I spent 12 1/2 of my 24 years away from Maine after graduating in 1983) saw him last weekend. They had nothing but great stuff to say. I saw him in Philly (solo) several years ago, too. Great stuff and he's very chatty with the crowd.

“Everybody has their own ideas of Shangri-La. I tried to teach myself to enjoy the present, enjoy the now" -Mark Knopfler

orono, me

Foster Huntington said...

i never got the chance to make it to the Mark Knopfler in Montreal or boston. over the summer i hope to see him in oregon though over the fourth of july. I cant wait to see him live. he is hand down my favorite story teller of any medium. thanks for the kind words and the wishes,

brandon sargent said...

congratulations and best of luck. our lives are blessed when we least expect it-and in places we would never look; a lesson you obviously learned well in the woods of maine. keep up the writing, no matter what your english teachers tell you. its always a pleasure to read your posts.


Foster Huntington said...

i think that more than anything, clint was trying to motivate me to push myself. thanks for the kind words and i agree about the best things happening when you least expect it. life's been good so far...

Waters said...


Some of the best writing I've seen on here -- great work. Just thought it was worthy of comment. Keep it up.


Michael Mundy said...

Stay Curious,Indeed! I cant wait to see where you turn your eye next. Best of Luck Foster.

Foster Huntington said...

thanks for leaving the comment. i am really glad that you like my writing. I hope the home stretch is going well,

Brian said...

Congratulations Foster,

I hope you have a great summer. I am heading to Portland ME next week for a few days and I thought I would ask someone who knows the area where the secret spots to hit up are (food, places to drink, cool nature spots like the one here on this blog...) I figured you were the source.

Take care

Foster Huntington said...

I would meander around the old port area. there are a bunch of great shops and restaurants around. if you can get a reservation, i would go to fore street. its amazing. there are also some good sushi restaurants that the new york times wrote up not to long ago. Rogues Gallery's store on warf street is cool to check out. 3 dollar deweys is a constellation. Hope you like your visit.

Mr Ryan said...

Great post man!

brohammas said...

Dude, great story. I love Finding Forrester and use the word "dude" here to simply balance out all the literary reffrences.

I was the worst college student ever. All the time I spent studying things I liked distracted from my homework.

Keep up the god work.

sandy in tassie said...

Your blog is like a cool breeze on a hot day. Will be coming back for more.