Another year is ending, one in which we have seen the best and the worst of human nature. Here at K-State, “Dead Week” is beginning, and students are acting accordingly-lots of parties, lots of studying, and yet more partying.

Little pamphlets reading “Finals Week Survival Packet” have been passed out in the dorm mailboxes, and purport to tell you how to handle stress. (They suggest relaxation exercises. I suggest therapy and anti-depressants.)

The pamphlets also give us a time planner to help schedule and study. (Never mind that most students already have planners of their own that are far more in-depth than those given in the packet). And they offer the great suggestion to “take a week off from your off-campus job”- as if most students who have jobs have that luxury.

Sorry if I sound excessively cynical. School is always a downer subject for me, and, considering my scholarship will be up in the air until after finals doesn’t exactly make things better.

My grades are decent, of course. The question is whether they’re good enough to maintain my scholarship. Even worse, cigarettes have stopped tasting good for some odd reason, which means I should either (a) switch the brand of my occasional habit or (b) give them up entirely.

Presently, I’m leaning toward (b), knowing my parents, conscience and lungs all approve.

Lest it seem I can’t appreciate the good stuff, I have excellent teachers this semester. I’ve been creatively productive lately, and everything is on track with the screenplay. “Vanilla Sky” is coming out in a couple weeks-two of my favorite actors (Tom Cruise and Jason Lee) teaming up in a movie from one of my favorite writer/directors (Cameron Crowe).

It’s just that life has seemed vaguely machine-like lately: pull the levers, turn the wheels, watch things spin, and do it again. I’m guessing that’s part of growing up-but then again, it was a feeling present in high school, too.

Right now, I’m just trying to decide where the light is at the end of the tunnel-or whether the tunnel goes on forever and the only light is that which slips through the cracks in the walls.

I remember quoting from a friend back in my September column-his philosophy that depression is a transitory state. I still believe that, and wouldn’t qualify myself as depressed anymore. A lot of the darkness I had been living with was largely internal and self-inflicted.

And if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s how to be successful at self-exorcism.

But I’ve also learned that the journey is a process-one that’s full of taking one step up at a time, only to find that you’ll fall two back before you can proceed. Very seldom do we get the truth handed to us on a silver platter, or a flash of light on the biblical road to Damascus.

Answers come in bits and pieces, and the past will come back to haunt you if you don’t have the courage to face it head on and correct whatever mistakes you’ve made. It’s the only way to undo regret and live the fullest life possible.

I was talking with a friend on Microsoft Messenger today as I sat down to write this column. In the midst of discussing several issues, I confessed to not really knowing how to handle a situation she was facing, and she said “You mean you don’t have all the answers? Kinda destroys the mirage.”

I don’t have all the answers. I’ve never claimed to and never will. There are, however, certain things I know to be true, things I know are no mirage.

Love. Trust. Friendship. The unbreakable bonds of blood. And the power of-and need for-faith. Not necessarily in a Higher Power, but knowing that the biggest source of power you have lies within yourself, and is always at your disposal.

Of course, there are negative constants as well. Death, of course. Taxes. Finals. The knowledge that almost any time a classic rock song is covered (such as Madonna’s desecration of “American Pie” that my roommate is currently playing), it’s probably going to suck.

The rest is a mass of confusion, frustration, and the knowledge that if there is a God, he/she/it/whatever is currently looking down at us and laughing really hard. The best we can do is roll with the punches-and, of course, avoid listening to classic rock ripoffs.

And-of course-realizing that the journey is a process.

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