The University of Connecticut is filled with inspiration and intelligence, friends are close at hand and professors are paid to read work produced by students, New York Times op-ed columnist David Brooks told a group of students and faculty in Laurel Hall Tuesday evening. The risk is low; so a student’s “first year out of college is going to suck,” he told the group humorously.
But instead of becoming endlessly discouraged, he suggested that students widen their horizon of risk. Brooks’ lecture was part of a tour to promote his book, “Road to Character.”
He used the lecture to tell stories about the characters in his book, which reflect major experiences and turning points one may come to in the course of his or her lifetime. He walked through some of their narratives, which he ultimately circled back into a broader perspective about life experiences.
As an example, Brooks said that like his characters, people come to points in their lives that bring them back to what is important to them. When those moments happen, he described them as being “moments when life and time are suspended and sort of stops, and you become aware of certain and profound joy.”
He took time to explain what it means to commit to something, relating it to the audience’s experiences now and what will happen after college.
“You will make four major commitments in your life; establishing a family, establishing a career, deciding a personal philosophy and religious faith and how to be in a community,” said Brooks.
Brooks also talked about love and hate, citing that he viewed them not as opposites and rather that boredom is the opposite of love. He elaborated by explaining the meaning of the word Eros as being ruined by society’s obsession with sex, whereas the word really means to be yearning for something such as a moral yearning, a subject of passion that isn’t reserved solely for the flesh.
One audience member asked where hate falls in the spectrum.
“For those of us who have been in love very close to it,” he said. This yielded a laugh from the audience, and he went on to say that love is something that strikes us as a need to be focused on, which he explores even further in his book.
Students responded positively to the lecture.
“I’ve read a lot of his work in the New York Times, so I was interested to see tonight how his presentation would differ from some the work he has had in the Times,” Jori Houck, a fourth-semester political science and communications student said. “I was especially interested in hearing his thoughts on our generation and the challenges that we face.”
Brooks’ words also resonated with Allison Rosaci, a fourth-semester English major.
“Having an adult figure guide you that is not your parents is practical. What stuck out the most to me was that when [David Brooks] spoke about what makes us who we are today, most people will say something sad, overcoming that adversity and the importance of that,” Rosaci said.