Column: Our destinies are ours to control

Abby Carlin, Copy Editor

I was surfing the Internet last week, not searching for anything in particular, when I stumbled across Ernest Hemmingway’s The Snows of Kilimanjaro. What captured my attention, though, was not the language or the plot, but the references to a frozen leopard.

After some research, I found that this frozen leopard actually exists. The carcass has remained in the same spot for decades, specifically atop the western summit of Kilimanjaro, which is locally known as the House of God. Ever since I stumbled on that random piece of seemingly meaningless trivia, I have been wondering what the heck he was doing so far from where he was supposed to be.

Trying to rationalize the situation, I have reflected upon the possibility that maybe the leopard was looking for food, but traveling nearly 20,000 feet into the sky is quite the journey for a simple meal. This leopard was going somewhere, striving for something profound, for why else would a creature that thrives in the heat and, well, on the ground, travel into a whole new environment?

The answer came to me after a few days, and it was so simple. It was the same question that we have all been trying to answer for years. Why did the leopard climb a mountain? Why did the chicken cross the road? Why did or does anyone do anything?

Because they felt like it.

There is no rhyme or reason to decision-making. The paths we decide to take in life may appear to be calculated, but it all comes down to our free will. Robert Frost tries to tell us that taking the “road less traveled by” will make “all the difference,” but I do not buy into that.

We are the ones who make the difference. Every day we make choices that can ultimately change life as we know it, whether those choices are shopping at Walmart or Aldi, transferring schools, asking a girl out on a date or skipping your 8 a.m. class. The key to happiness and fulfillment is not good luck or an algorithm; it is taking a calculated risk and throwing caution to the wind when the moment comes.

It is deciding that this moment counts and just going for it, whatever that “it” may be to you.

Free will is a gift that many of us take for granted, especially considering that we live in a country where we have a lot of room to exercise it. Even bigger than that is the realization that life is beautiful and filled with an infinite amount of opportunities and possibilities, allowing the chicken to cross the road and the leopard to climb a frozen mountain.


Abby Carlin is a sophomore English language arts major. She can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].