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Love, even when you don’t understand

Matt LanettiThis is the single most difficult assignment of my Malvern career.

Throughout my time here, I have built engines, a solar cooker, and a galvanic cell powered stylus. I have given four presentations in room 202 in front of Mr. Roper and a bunch of teenage boys I call my brothers on Dylan Thomas, The Crusades, The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, and Lysistrata. Just last week, I was up at 3:00 AM writing the last 10 pages of a 10 page philosophy paper comparing Neil Young’s Hey Hey, My My to the teachings of Jesus.

None of these were even a fraction as challenging as this. Writing something to conclude my Malvern career is very difficult.

Everyone at this school knows me as someone with unfailing opinions and beliefs of stronger conviction than the torque of a vintage Land Cruiser. For those of you playing at home, add to your list (just under Toyota > Jeep) that it is impossible to truly understand something if you don’t love it. There is only one exception. Just keep reading, it will make sense soon.

Last year, Mr. Liga was careless enough to let me touch a guitar while in Camden. Over the next 6 months, I learned to play guitar and banjo and I built around 5 guitars, banjos, and hybrid stringed instruments with the help of Mr. Liga and Mr. Muntz.

A few years ago, Mr. Sillup had me give a presentation on Stirling engines. Making one out of 2 soda cans (yes, sugared soda) and foil tape made me see the majesty of the design. Just last month, I completed one made from actually machined parts.

Captain Boyce taught me about alloys in my sophomore year. That summer, I melted more lead and other various metals in my backyard than a 19th century plumber. (Don’t worry, I was very safe). A few dozen propane tanks and about 20 alloys later, I started to see immense application to such a wonderfully fun activity. I learned about metals and alloying by loving to do something.

Looking back on it all, from a sugared drinks petition to catching fish by hand in the Philippines, I learned the most from the things I loved. If I didn’t love metalworking, I would never have fully learned what an interstitial alloy is. I would have only memorized the definition.

For those brothers lucky enough to still go to this school, use every opportunity you are given to fall in love with something. I’ve never regretted loving, but I regret not loving.
You only understand the things you love, with one exception.

The reason why this is so difficult to write (20+ attempts over 6 days) is the same reason why there is an exception to the rule. My paper on Neil Young and Jesus was actually pretty easy – both preached a life after death. Building that engine wasn’t too hard either – it was all about getting compression. And my Roper presentations – there are countless books comparing Lysistrata to modern feminism in comedy.

These assignments were easy because they have answers. It is actually possible to make a stirling engine. It is impossible to write something to conclude my time at Malvern. Malvern is as incomprehensible as it is wonderful. You only understand the things you love, with one exception. You can never understand Malvern Prep, but you can love it.

I will soon matriculate as a 4th class cadet at The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina and enter the South Carolina Corps of Cadets. During a visit to Charleston, I asked a cadet how difficult it is for him to meet up with his high school friends, given the restricted ability to leave the grounds of the college. He laughed at my question and told me that cadets never hang out with high school friends, despite him having gone to high school in Charleston. “They were friends; we are brothers,” he said to me.

I looked back in Malvern alumni records and found no reference to anyone attending The Citadel. I will be carrying the experiences of my high school to a new place. While previous cadets began with “They were friends,” I will be the very first to begin with “They are brothers.”

Hemingway once wrote, “If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.”

I will never have to say goodbye to my Alma Mater.

I will never have to write anything to conclude my Malvern career.

I will never leave Malvern Prep.

Instead, I will quote Jim Croce ’61:
“If I could save time in a bottle
The first thing that I’d like to do
Is to save every day until eternity passes away
Just to spend them with you.”

About Matt Lanetti

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