There is something magical about Texas. Something that defies age and time, location and position, identity and personality. Something that draws you into the deep fabric from which the state was woven. The State of Texas was founded in 1836, but the Texas which identifies us as its university is much, much older, and it isn’t until you're sitting on a bus, from Houston to Austin, watching the endless, rolling waves of the Hill Country pass you by that you begin to realize that.
There is something about it that makes you consider all that we have built up, the great cities of stone and glass that we have constructed in it, and simply ignore it. For, despite all the money and time and effort we have poured into our cities, there is something untouchable, unreachable about the majesty of the plains of Texas—something which makes you more proud of it than of any building in any city, of any house that you construct, of anything you've ever done—something which makes you proud simply to be a Texan, and to share your story and your skills with it.
The sky is endless—truly, really endless, unconstrained by anything—when you're in the middle of Texas. It makes you forget where you are, and makes you forget that you should remember—something that draws you into the very heart of the state, not to any one location or time. It is boundless, ageless, placeless. Texas, unlike so many other places in the world, allows you to exist purely in the present, with no regard or worry about where you are coming from or where you are going to. All that matters is just that you are—where you are, when you are, who you are, and how you are seem to become meaningless and unimportant concepts.
It is too often in computer science that we allow ourselves to define ourselves by our code, by our accomplishments, by our grades, or by how many graduate classes we've taken by our third year. We define ourselves by all the things—everything outside of Austin and Dallas and Houston make us realize are not important. We forget that we are not in the heart of New York or California, and too often do we regret this fact, as opposed to celebrate it, and we concern ourselves with holing ourselves into the little San Francisco or little New York we have constructed for ourselves in Austin.
We forget that we are in the middle of Texas, and we allow ourselves to be defined by the pride with which we see Californians and New Yorkers define their states. We aspire to great heights, but in the process we often forget about the foundation on which we have constructed our giants of stone and steel that we might stand on their shoulders and see further. We forget who we are—for under the shiny veneer of computer science, under the lines of code, we are Texans. And regardless of where we are born, we are, by virtue of the time we spend at this great university, in this great city, native sons and daughters and children of Texas.
I was going to write an article about registration, and about the hassles of finding classes, and perhaps I still will. But as I sit on this bus, driving from Houston to Austin, listening to relaxing music, it is hard to inspire the ire with which I might otherwise approach the topic. I instead find myself staring out the window at the setting sun purpling and pinking the darkening sky, basking in the sunset and the music and the glow of my computer as I return to Austin, and all I can think is that I have never been prouder to be a child of Texas than I am now.
And so to you, whether you're reading this on your computer in Texas, or this article finds you elsewhere in the world, take a moment to remember where you are from, be it Texas or New York or California or anywhere else in the world. And regardless of where of you are, take a moment to remove yourself from your computer and your code and your room, step outside, and breathe. It will make all the difference in the world.