It’s not easy to conduct an archeological expedition in an area where temperatures regularly reach 130 degrees and winds carry enough sand to turn the sun orange. It’s harder still to fathom that, more than 3,500 years ago, the area was a key city for an ancient civilization.
But that’s not to say we shouldn’t look. Last week, a team of Yale archeologists headed by Professor of Egyptology John Coleman Darnell announced they had discovered the “lost city” of Umm Mawagir. The find, which is being touted as a key to understanding the Theban dynasty, was nearly two decades and many long hikes in the making. And it was one that came from following a path that hasn’t been well-beaten in 3,000 years.
Next year, we celebrate the 100th anniversary of Hiram Bingham’s arrival at Machu Picchu, an event that changed our understanding of history. He arrived not by seeking sure success, but rather by taking the suggestion of a local farmer. One can only imagine what Darnell, who often wears a cape around campus, went through en route to Umm Mawagir.
As we begin a new school year, we would do well to follow Darnell and Bingham’s lead. This is not to say that we can be reckless or aimless (both explorers had an idea of what they hoped to find), but we should take advantage of the freedom to take risks. We shouldn’t hold back in our college years.
In her baccalaureate address this May, Drew Faust, the president of Harvard, spoke of the parking space theory of life. “Don’t park 10 blocks away from your destination because you think you’ll never find a closer space,” she said, echoing George Costanza’s concentric circle theory of parking. Aim for the spot you want and then circle around to the spot you have to have.
This is good advice indeed. Let’s all drive to the spot we want this year. It may leave us right in front of our destination. Just don’t try it during move- in.