One of life's most important lessons: Don't complain

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Editor's note: This is the final column by Erick Harris, who has spent a semester in London as an intern in Parliament.

By Erick Harris

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Yesterday marked the one-year anniversary of my parents' fatal accident in northern Illinois. Their passing has made it quite a depressing and stressful year. But it has had its great moments. I have not had the athletic ability to hit a winning home run in the bottom of the ninth or throw a game-winning pass, but I have, over the past year, been in comparably invigorating situations.

I spent much of the last week saying farewell to my superiors and those who showed me a brilliant time in London. Photographs, gifts and toasts marked my conclusion as an intern in Parliament.

Unfortunately, I will probably never see some of those people again; others are visiting over the summer. Either way I will miss all the people I have befriended across the Atlantic.

As I sat on the plane reflecting on my time in London and the past year in general, the following verse came to mind:

I've had some good days; I've had some hills to climb

I've had some weary days, and some lonely nights

But when I look around, and I think things over

All of my good days outweigh my bad days

I won't complain.

In the past year, I have met President Bush, been to the Oval Office, met members of Congress and Parliament, interned for four government officials in two countries, traveled the world, witnessed some incredible sights and artifacts, and met some exceptional individuals and celebrities in the process.

I realize that I have been fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to do more in a year than some may experience in a lifetime. As such, I will not complain.

Someone once told me, "Every moment in life is a learning experience, or what good is it?" That aphorism is true of my time abroad.

Spending the last four months in America's mother country was exhilarating. I learned much about the government and history of the United Kingdom, but living far away from family and friends has taught me much more.

The past four months have taught me more about myself than any other experience to date. Living in a different culture has stripped everything known to me. It has forced me to think and act in a different way and to live more independently. I cannot fully articulate these everyday learning experiences, but they are something that will stick with me.

Unfortunately, I was unable to share any of those experiences with my parents. So it has been my utmost pleasure to share some of my experiences over the last few months with the readers of the Southeast Missourian.

Though I expect to spend the better part of my summer in Washington, D.C., it is my plan to return home to Cape Girardeau on several occasions within the next few months to spend some time with the people who truly mean the world to me.

Erick Harris is a student at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., and is a graduate of Central High School in Cape Girardeau.

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