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To acquire wisdom, one must observe

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From my desk to yours

I am sitting at my desk at home staring directly at a blank Word document. No words, no nothing, not even a title or date. From the other side of my bedroom wall, I can faintly hear my brother’s music as it tries desperately to meld with the music I have on. From below me, I can hear my mother on a Zoom video call with all of her siblings. Yet, inside me I hear nothing. No thoughts bouncing around my head, no crazy ideas for a Friday night coming to fruition and most surprisingly: no noise. My mind has always been full of noise, constantly nagging me, asking stupid questions like, “Why are there no B batteries? Yet they doubled and tripled up on A’s?” or even weirder questions like, “If Adam and Eve were the first people on Earth, why do they have belly buttons? Who cut their umbilical cord and why did they need it to begin with?”

But at the same time, I always valued that constant state of noise in my mind because it kept me on track. Reminding me to do work and coming up with good ideas for papers and research. In high school, I traveled around the country debating and I began to pride myself on the fact that in any situation I always had something to say and some logic behind it. However, staying at home has made me lose sight of those qualities. I am falling behind on work, with a number of papers slowly creeping closer to their due dates and no work to show for it. Whether it be my heavily increased procrastination when I am at home, my lack of mental willpower to write under these circumstances or, most likely, both, I find myself lost. So, I sit here at my desk with a blank Word document in front of me, wondering, what can I do? 

Well, I can reflect on time, on my life, on college and everything under the sun. Or even reflect on smaller things, like, “Because this article is going to be published online, will anyone outside of the editorial staff read it?” I know the first two paragraphs are heavy and perhaps whoever is reading now is thinking, “Oh God, another sad article from a cynical teenager.” It would be fair to think that, but I will try to turn this article around. 

Reflecting taught me a few things that are vital to keeping me sane and positive. First, as I think about time and everything that has happened in history, I realize that from the birth of civilization in Mesopotamia, to the Crusades, to the bubonic plague, to the invention of the modern computer even, it almost seems like life has always been a constant struggle. A struggle to socialize, to idealize, to survive and to learn. The more you learn and listen to the news, it almost seems as if the world has always been going to hell in a handbasket, and sure, maybe that’s true, but humanity has always persisted. We will always pull through because no matter how dark the cloud and heavy the rain, there is always a silver lining. 

This metaphor can be scaled down too. On the college level, sure, BIOL 15a tests suck and when you receive your grade you wonder, “How will I ever get into medical school?” But then the curve and scale generously turns that 47% into a 93% and yeah, no one knows how it happens, but no one is arguing or complaining about it. Even personally, I can scale it down to a single anecdote from my life. In elementary school, I was running down our paved courtyard one day, and out of the corner of my eye, I saw a kid that must have fallen and was on the ground. I was running towards him and I thought, “You know what would look cool? If I jumped over him while running and amazed all the little second graders around him!” I ran closer to him and then I planted my right foot and began to jump, but right then and there my toe got caught under his torso, and I ended up falling on top of him and cutting up my arms and legs. I was mortified at how embarrassed I was. This was the least athletic moment of my life and now, instead of one cool cat running away that had a dope jump over the one crying kid on the ground, there were two crying kids. I thought I would never get over that embarrassment and that I would live under that cloud forever, but when the teachers came over to bring us to the nurse, we got free ice cream. Boom! Silver lining right there! Ice cream, heck yeah! 

The more I reflect on life, the more I realize everything has a silver lining. We will get through this and we will return to campus with our friends soon. Now, I will be realistic. To assume the world will go back to “normal” after all of this is a bit ignorant. In light of what is going on, I do not mean to be shrewd but, rather, realistic. I will be completely honest here: The world may never get back to “normal” and I won’t sugarcoat that statement either. I don’t think the world will ever get back to the way it was before, but how lucky are we to exist in this moment, to be present for the moment that changes the world? This is a once-in-a-generation catastrophe, but how lucky are we that we get to live through it? We can come out of this and be sad about all the time we lost inside, that’s fair, but we can also come out of this seeing it as our moment. Our time to say: we saw the world change and we stepped up to save others. We stepped up to save the world and yes, I will miss life before all of this, but now I will never take for granted ever again a hug from someone close to me, even if my legs shake from holding onto them for so long. I will never take for granted a high five from a roommate, or even something as little as being able to look at someone in their eyes and not through a screen. 

We are the generation of pioneers that will define how life moves on after all of this. We will use every memory of the past to drive us into the future. So sure, my mind may be blank now, but soon it will be crazy again, and maybe not the same, but better. There is a silver lining to everything; so from my desk to yours, I hope my words helped. Stay safe, be happy and I will see you all on campus soon.     

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