Thanks for the Neurotransmitters

Well, it happened again. There’s something very moving about seeing a graduating class filing into Persons in a stately and organized manner. You can say what you want about ritual and ceremony and black robes and other sentimental stuff; I think it has to do with the straight lines. I mean, here you have 81 people (Marlboro’s biggest graduating class, ever) who have spent the last four years of their lives trying to stand out, assert their awesome individuality, push the envelope, think outside the ol’ box and generally kick dialectical butt. In other words, they spent four years getting as far as possible from arranging themselves in even vaguely straight lines. And yet here they were, at the climax of their nonconformist efforts, walking in two straight lines like Gregorian monks who do it every day. The irony of it all warms the heart.

Speaking of anatomy, senior speaker Will Mees gave graduates, their families and fellow community members a brief but mind-blowing lesson in brain anatomy and function. Really. In the interest of reflecting on memories of Marlboro, Will had us all imagining nerve synapses as bustling ports, where cargo deliveries of neurotransmitters are ferried back and forth in intricate and changing patterns. For me, it was one of those terrifying moments when I realized that my brain was actually doing the exact thing I was learning about, exactly so I could learn about it-like a picture of me holding a picture of me holding a picture, and so on. Nobody else looked terrified, but it might have been a stretch for some of the arts and humanities students. In the end, Will’s point was that memories of Marlboro will inevitably change: “This isn’t a good or a bad thing-it’s just a thing,” he said.

See a photo gallery, video and lots more commencement-o-mania on the Marlboro website.