View life as a web of unique stories

R.M. Rilke said that “the knowledge of impermanence that haunts our days is their very fragrance.”

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, especially in light of the fact that I’m a senior and my days on campus are dwindling.

However, the idea that our limited number of days gives them beauty can be pressing to anyone.

Because life is impermanent, we have to be intentional about living it. We have to understand the basic elements of a story and try to make our lives into the best stories possible. This means knowing that each story has a web of characters, pressing conflicts, satisfying victories and vivid settings.

When you understand how stories work, it seems natural to view your life, and everyone’s around you, as complex and unique stories.

After you start viewing your impermanent life as a pressing narrative, it’s up to you to decide to live and view that story.

For some, that might mean engaging in the community to impact other people’s stories positively. Others might seek out adventures and memorable experiences to enrich their own stories.

As a journalist and writer, my main concern is telling my own story and other people’s stories. This means taking time to reflect on everyday happenings, and it means investing hours in interviewing people about events and causes they’ve been involved in.

Sometimes it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that that something as seemingly trivial as a basketball game or a Cat Cab is a unique and important narrative, waiting to be told.

When you view life as a web of connected stories, details like how many students were screaming as loud as they could during a basketball game become important and beautiful in the grand scheme of things.

So whether you want to enrich other people’s stories, explore your own, or tell them all, I encourage you to let the impermanence of life be the fragrance that haunts your days, seeing each detail as valuable and note-worthy.

Joanna Peterson/Managing editor
Joanna can be reached at

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