Image description: A blue wall with baskets of flowers.
Living is such a funny concept in today’s world. “If you haven’t done this you aren’t living” they say. Well, I’ve not done many things many people have, yet I sit here and still feel my pulse. So, what is “living” really? I spent summer and a good chunk of this term dealing with the saddening thought that this is it, this is my University experience and this is time lost that I can never repeat. I believed Covid had stolen my time. It stole all the things I had spent years looking forward to and hoped I would spend years reminiscing. University, especially Oxford University, is such a unique experience that to lose even one precious day used to fill me with an odd sense of loss – as if a thousand possibilities of what could have been are lost with it. The pandemic broke apart any expectation of what my year would look like, and, as with my term as Editor in Chief, my time at this University is almost over.
It was in two minds that I attempted and still struggle to rectify these mournful thoughts. Firstly, one must recognise that living, in any way, is a gift not to be taken lightly. For many people this year, that gift was taken from them. We are all deserving of feeling regret for ‘what could have been’ but regret does not permit selfish thoughts or selfish behaviour. Secondly, being grateful for what you have, and what you have done — no matter how small — is important. Despair over things that you have no part in changing, over lost time that has no hope of returning to you, leads only to further sadness. Sad thoughts can creep so deeply into living that happy things become less so. I am grateful for a lot: I am grateful that I am healthy, that I have not suffered loss during the pandemic, I am grateful to the people ensuring the safety of this Country and this University, I am grateful to friends and family and people I can rely on, and I am grateful to this team: those who have worked so hard to make the Oxford Student what it is today.
Living can be such a painful thing to do, but it is something we must all do. In this shared struggle of being in the world, I hope you will turn to those you know well, and to those you know less well, and be thankful for their existence. Thank them for the part they play in your life, be it great or small, and remember that nobody was ready for this year. I sincerely hope that 2021 is a year of reconnection where we can see loved ones once again, and that regret for lost time can be undone by new experiences. Until that point, thank you for reading, appreciating, and contributing to the Oxford Student this term. As Lauren and I pass on to Issy and Robert, let us not forget to live, no matter how small our lives may be right now.
Maybe this is a bit of drivel, but hopefully, you can, as I have, find joy in a little life.
Image credit: Josh Boddington.