After what seemed to be a three week grace period, complete with sunny weather, manageable workloads and the lingering air of excitement about a new year, it feels like the semester has been sent into overdrive. Temperatures have fallen, making it that much harder to get out of bed in the morning, and the due date for that first round of papers is coming up soon. In this time of peak stress and anxiety, it’s easy for students to enter survival mode. It’s crucial for our campus to overcome this tendency and maintain the excitement and curiosity we started the semester with. It’s in these tense moments that we must focus on the time and moments that are passing us by.
In these stressful moments, as we move from one exam to the next problem set or essay, it can feel like we are just trying to stay afloat. Perhaps that means taking a power nap or skipping the end of the 300 page book you were assigned to read in a week. These steps are often psychologically necessary, and are not at all themselves the root of the problem, but it’s easy to forget that the future holds different things — and not the future that is the plans made for after a paper deadline — but the future that comes in small, precious moments that are not a time you ever actively work towards, but instead suddenly appear when we finally have the chance to stop to breathe. When we work to catch up, and only to catch up, we are only left breathless on the other side of a deadline. Given the Amherst workload, perhaps we will always be working to catch up, but we must stop to think and collect ourselves. To combat the tendencies associated with stress, we can practice mindfulness and self-care, and experience hope for time, made up of collective moments, instead of being stuck on a linear trajectory that feels like we’re constantly trudging through the snow on the quad in February. Instead of constantly looking ahead to the next task, what would it be like if we took the time to recognize the importance of each moment?