Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Can do

“If you think you can, you can.” 

This was the slogan on a fortune cookie from a recent take-out Chinese dinner. Oddly, the fortune cookie presents the same adage as Virgil’s Latin phrase “Possunt, quia posse videntur”— “They can, because they think they can.”

I learned the Virgil quote five years ago when Arielle Jennings, the student I mentored throughout high school, gave me a silver jewel box—inscribed with the above Latin phrase—containing a silver heart-shaped pendant embellished by both of our birthstones. My peridot went missing a while back and Arielle’s emerald-like stone disappeared only recently, but I still wear the pendant daily (were the lost stones a metaphor for “Decoration is ephemeral; heart is constant”?).
Last year, when Arielle graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design with a degree in Illustration, I recycled the Virgil quote on a card for her. After living in Providence for a year after her graduation, Arielle is moving to New York City to pursue work, ideally in art and publishing. Both Virgil and the philosopher of  Wonton Food Inc. of Brooklyn, NY will be helpful guides as Arielle navigates through the shoals of job listings, HR screeners and tips from contacts.

The power of positive thinking, perseverance, and a strong foundation from RISD, notwithstanding, Arielle will confront reality. She can because she thinks she can—but luck and timing and any leads will also be useful during her quest for fulfilling, and remunerative work.

Arielle's graduation day. Alba Corrado calligraphed each graduate’s name onto the diploma designed by the late John Howard Benson, a sculptor and calligrapher who taught at RISD.

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