Despite the papers, studying, and exams, it still feels like Christmas at Carleton. Maybe it was the snow on the ground that first got me in the mood to hum carols, or maybe it was simply the mounting adrenaline in my veins that clued me in to my upcoming deadlines. As I have progressed in the Humanities, so too has the number of papers I am expected to complete by the term’s end. However, this is not really a bother because I prefer writing papers to exams.
The upcoming exam season is bittersweet. On the one hand, I get to spend lots of time with my friends in the Humanities program (as we study, rant, and explain philosophy’s importance to anyone who will listen). On the other hand, this is the season where busyness tends to appear most prominently in my life and the lives of my peers. As an article I recently read stated, busyness is a type of mental block that we throw up to protect ourselves and it keeps us from enjoying the moment. If I had to narrow down my first year in Humanities to one lesson, it would be that we need to live in the now and enjoy what is happening to us at this very moment. The only way to truly appreciate the adventures in the Biblical stories we read or the passion in the spiritual poetry we consume is to read them as if nothing else exists.
Living in the moment is hard. It is tough enough to do on a normal day; but when snow is flying, the world resembles a snow globe, and I am stuck between writing about poetry or philosophy, living in the here and now becomes almost impossible. I absolutely love everything about the holidays. So, naturally, everything about them becomes a distraction. Cookies. Carols. Shopping. Wrapping. Everything seems to demand my attention and leaves me frozen, unsure of what to do or when to do any of it.
I always try to remind myself to breathe – slowly and deeply. While I breathe, I look around at the world and remind myself of how lucky I am to be alive. Then, I pick up a book and I read. I read until I cannot read anymore Hegel, Nietzsche, or Heidegger, and then I remind myself to breathe again. Slowly but surely, I get things done.
It feels like Christmas at Carleton and while I love all of the trappings of the season, my favourite part is actually the journey to the end of the semester. By the time my exams are finished and my papers are handed in, I can breathe easier. At the end of the term, I can look back on my achievements with pride because I made it through another four months. This time I’m approaching a goal of the past few years, the undergraduate finish line. I wish my fellow Ravens a happy holiday season and remind you all to breathe – slowly and deeply.