By Benjamin Acosta '23
In the last stretch of last school year, my sanity began to falter a bit with the final wave of assessments. At times it seemed I simply lacked the energy and motivation to drive me through the end. God inserted a helping hand. Or rather, tarsus. It was sort of orange.
If there’s anything that should have struck us at the emergence of Brood X, it might be that as we ambled through parks and over lawns our whole lives, there were millions of Magicicadas beneath our feet each step of the way. I fell in love with the omnipresent bugs during their two months in D.C., but I realize that converting everyone into a cicada enthusiast may perhaps prove vain. This world is full of things besides cicadas though. And they might be almost as close as right beneath your feet.
In what was perhaps the most strenuous time of the school year, the Magicicadas offered a distraction from schoolwork that I justified as “scientific.” Maybe it was, or maybe hours of staring at eclosing nymphs on long-wilted Mother’s Day flowers is just my slightly slower version of a movie, but, for sanity, I think it was worth it. Those are times I won’t forget.
On the Close, people seem to think about college a lot. And in connection, grades. Much stress builds as we move from homework from one class to that of three others, hoping that in the frantic juggling our work turns out well enough that we can at least make that 85 because just maybe, as Mr. Campbell jests, “This quiz will weigh heavily on your quarter grade, which will have an impact on your grade in this class, which may determine your college and thus your career and your life.” Perhaps we are approaching things the wrong way. Mr. Ehrenhaft says that, as with running, “if one immerses oneself in a particular subject and is gaining an appreciation for and love of that subject area, the grades take care of themselves.” We will burn out and make it miserable for ourselves if we think only of the grades because we will hardly love what we do.
So how can we love what we do? As Mr. Ehrenhaft suggests, we can fully engage with our classes, looking past “History isn’t really my subject,” and asking questions, trying to fully understand rather than barely slide by. If you really know the material, the work will be so much easier and that much more interesting. We tend to like things that we are good at. Then the grades will take care of themselves.
Additionally, our classes, besides being another task in the day, can be gateways to discovering things you really do enjoy. Prior to my freshman religion class and Eastern Myth elective I had had minimal contact with the Arabic language. Yet the sound and structure of the language intrigued me so much during our examination of Islam that I began to study it (it’s quite fun). The world is full, and if you keep your eyes and ears (and more importantly, your brain) open, you never know what you’ll find.
The Close is full of people with all kinds of amazing talents and fascinating hobbies. Focus on those! Share them with each other, and constantly choose to be curious, because ultimately how you approach not only your classes but everything you do defines you far more than the numerical result of those classes.
This school year brings something we can universally make the most of. “Kickass chapel talk” aside, John Rhee ‘23 anticipates experiencing “STA as it should be experienced - not just classes but the community that we missed during remote and hybrid.” Though we’re not quite sure what the covid protocols will look like, let’s focus on rebuilding what we have all missed and give our all into reviving and enjoying the spirit of eating together, competing together, and learning together. Like spending time with the cicadas, these foci are worthwhile distractions, because unlike our grades, these we won’t forget as easily. And it’ll help us stay sane.
The world is rich. There’s Arabic, there’s cicadas, there’s our community. There’s your classes, even the ones you don’t like as much. Just make the conscious effort to open your mind. All the tools you could possibly need to make the time of your life are within reach. Maybe even as close as right beneath your feet.