“Ben, what are you doing?”
“Well, I would say that I am just drifting….here in the pool.”
To celebrate my recent graduation from college I felt it appropriate to watch the 1967 film The Graduate. In this film Dennis Hoffman plays Ben Braddock, a recent college grad that is lost after graduation and is worried about his future, sounds familiar.
I have seen this movie before but as I watched this time I understood Ben in a way I have not before. He is unsure about his future. In one scene he tells his father he is scared for his future, that he wants his future to be…different. I find myself in a same situation as Ben. (Except for the having an affair with an older married woman part, we differ in that regard.) Graduating from college is a scary step into the world. For the past 25 years of my life I have been a student, which has been my identity. After I finished college and left the study halls behind I no longer had the identity of a student. I understood the world through the eyes of a student and graduation was always a far off distant reality that I never liked to think about. Not only did graduation come, it flew at me like a baseball to the back of the head, a locomotive steaming past me at a hundred miles an hour, and I am still trying to stop my head from spinning.
In the beginning of The Graduate, Ben is not sure what to do with himself. His friends and family want to know what this college track star is going to do now that he is done with school. He feels the pressure of their expectations. There is a scene in the movie where Ben’s father forces him to show off his new SCUBA diving suit to some friends. Ben, dressed in the suit, somberly flops the giant flippers on his feet as he walks from the house to the backyard pool, all you hear is his breathing through the respirator, and then he jumps in the pool. The scene ends with him sitting in silence at the bottom of the pool, completely defeated, trapped under the weight of societal pressures and his own uneasiness. I feel that same uneasiness about my future.
The rest of the movie involves Ben searching for his future and at the end it isn’t entirely clear if he has found it or not. I am drifting in the pool, but hopefully I am drifting forward. I may not have found my future yet but unlike Ben I am confident that I will. And there is one other thing that I know for sure; things would be much better if I had Simon and Garfunkel as the soundtrack to my life.