“’Thank you’ is the best prayer that anyone could say. I say that one a lot. Thank you expresses extreme gratitude, humility, understanding.”
-- Alice Walker
We have a saying in our office, "Attitude of Gratitude" while we don't know who said it originally, it’s catchy and we like it, so we say it, all the time. Now is a good time to reflect on it since we said grace remotely around different thanksgiving tables last week, a first for many of us. As usual, we went around and expressed what we were thankful for this year. While the answers were all appropriately grateful, the tone felt just a little bit different. Whether you were acknowledging colonizer good fortune or celebrating pilgrim fortitude, our hope is that undergirding the feast and floats and football you found an attitude of gratitude. We say it when we’re feeling thankful, we also say it when we’re not. 2020 has leaned more towards the latter for us and for many of you. This has been a different kind of year. There is some solace in the fact that none of us has ever experienced anything like this before, though that provides little comfort really. Just like there is some solace in the notion that it could be worse, but that may be difficult to imagine. We are all navigating a new reality. That is okay. You are okay, even though it may not feel or seem like it. What we're hearing from students are variations on a theme.
"I'm just trying to get through this semester..."
"I'm burnt out..."
"I just feel blah..."
"I 'm so tired of Zoom or Collaborate, or Meet, or looking at my screen..."
”I don’t like online classes…”
"I'm over it..."
When we ask what "IT" is, it's anything and everything. We get IT. We get that IT kinda sucks. We get that IT is not what you signed up for. We get that IT feels like too much and not enough all at the same time, which shouldn't make sense or be possible and yet it is because, the Rona (I refuse to call it the Vid, Kevin can miss me with that one). There's great news, you're almost there. The semester is almost over. A break is on its way. How will you meet it, standing tall having conquered the semester, or bloodied and bowed having barely made it through? Both happen, but candidly we're pulling for standing tall. Whether you run across the line, walk, limp or crawl, what matters is that you cross it, that you finish. If you've been cruising this semester, good for you. Keep doing what you're doing, help others, you can finish. If you've been getting beat up all semester, we get that too. Reach out to others, figure out what you can do differently, get some help, you can finish. If you've been chilling and are doing okay, but know you could be doing better, you're not alone. Redouble your efforts, get some help, find a way, you can finish.
People often call college a marathon. You’ve probably heard the saying “It’s a marathon not a sprint.” That may be slightly off. What if it’s more like the Tour de France (without the doping)?
“Life is like riding a bicycle. In order to keep your balance, you must keep moving.”
-- Albert Einstein
There are stages (semesters) and there are rest stops (breaks). Some stages are hilly, some are flat, while some are mountainous. At some rest stops, you get right back up and start riding again (winter), at some you have to go somewhere else to start from a different place (summer). Oh, and you always ride with a team even though you finish for yourself. Not to overwork the metaphor here, but this really feels like a good analogy. The more I look at it and think about it, the more sense it makes (thanks google). You are on the tour and you’re pedaling your behind off. Your legs are burning, your heart is racing, it is hard to breathe, but the finish line for this stage is right around the corner. Dig deep, push forward, pedal hard, finish strong…
"Whenever you have taken up work in hand, you must see it to the finish. That is the ultimate secret of success. Never, never, never give up!"
-- Dada Vaswani