As I realized last week that the term papers I usually submit in the middle of December are now due in the middle of November, I opened my calendar to scrawl out a plan for the semester’s premature end. Once I finished charting my course, the result resembling more of a conspiracy theorist’s chalkboard than an organized strategy for success, I decided to flip back to the opening pages of the leather-bound book, back to the start of the year 2020.
I bought the calendar in December 2019 as its predecessor ran out, and I copied my notes for the final month of the semester into the new book. I published the semester’s last Collegian on Tuesday, Dec. 3, and attended a formal in New Orleans the following weekend. The week after that I took four finals, and then went home for Christmas.
January 2020 looks like the aftermath of a shotgun blast, with presentation topics, Collegian meetings, and other assignments due one after the other. February followed a similar scheme, only more hectic. I started to think about COVID-19 after the Pearl River unleashed its third highest flood in history around February 17. The ultimate irony is the headline of March 3’s Collegian, which read, “Coronavirus: Cause for Concern?”
Whoever said journalism is the rough draft of history is laughing right now.
The late spring and summer seemed much longer than four months. Every day felt like a year, and every minute felt like a day. The disappointment and depression that marked those long months will never be forgotten. There were good times that came from being home to be sure, but the overall sensation was one of longing and anxiety. We wondered what the future would hold, and if classes and jobs would resume.
And though I would like for this to be an obituary for the year 2020, there are still 58 days standing between us and what we hope is a brighter new year. 2021 could be just as bad, even worse, or better than its predecessor. I do not know; no one knows.
Though it is easy to give in to fear and worry, I say we adopt a more optimistic perspective. We made it through a global pandemic, the destruction of a soaring economy, the narrowing of a wide job market, masks, online or socially distanced classes, riots and protests, a polarizing and hard-to-watch election, and murder hornets to name a few. As of right now, students of MC will return to campus next semester for on-campus classes. We can do this. We are strong, resilient, enterprising, endeavoring, daring, brave, and history will record this generation among the greats.
This holiday season, I encourage you to eat enough, get some bigger britches, and rest, because the new year is coming whether we are ready or not. As Winston Churchill told the students of Harrow School in October 1941, “We have only to persevere to conquer.” 162 years earlier at the Battle of Flamborough Head, the American naval commander John Paul Jones famously said, “I have not yet begun to fight!”
Time goes on, readers, so must we; and by the grace of God, we will.