Because of the Cold

1:22 PM

Complaining, as usual. What else is there to talk about? Papers, papers, tired, papers, homework, and life isn’t fair. Typical lunchtime conversation. She sits and listens to my thinly veiled tirade, and then—“OH! IT’S SO BEAUTIFUL!” I turn around to face the first snowfall framed by the cafeteria window.

My reaction? “NOOOO.”

But I cannot stop her, can’t stop her joy, her smile, her gasp of disbelief, her repetition of just how wonderful that stuff coming down from the sky is. (And she’s from the Midwest.) “Girl, just wait until you’ve trudged through it for the always-winter-never-Christmas weather from now until April”—that’s what I think when I scurry off to papers, papers, papers.

Her expression—hand over mouth, eyes bright—sticks in my mind. Her words too: “I just take joy in small things like that,” she had said.

Winter’s coming—cold, freezing, snowy days that never result in cancelled classes. Term papers are due soon. And there are only a few weeks left to claw through a mass of sleep deprivation and finals to survive until winter break. I already hear complaints left and right about everything—greasy BAMCO pizza, bad professors, and improperly heated dorm rooms. Something about our liberal arts education seems to make us feel entitled to criticizing and complaining—maybe joy seems too naïve, something sheltered homeschoolers lose after they get back their first English paper, or maybe our complaints feel valid since we can opine on philosophy in the union at odd hours of the night. Or it might be more that we want to connect or just talk, and there are always common negative things to unite around.

Whatever the reason, I want to put in a complaint about complaining—my complaining, your complaining, the general atmosphere of whining about minute things that even I in my negativity fail to pick up. In case we forgot, there are such things as joy, hope, and love—even on this campus with its imperfections and its challenges. And it’s not merely enough to say thanks. This is not a themed Thanksgiving opinion piece. This is about more than thankfulness—this is about finding delight in things that ride the edge of awful and awesome (like the first snowfall). If you’ve got the choice to hate it or love it, try loving it. If that doesn’t brighten your day, it’ll at least encourage the friend you chat with over lunch.

This letter to the editor did not show up in my college's newspaper. I am only slightly mortified by that. Hopefully this slice of college life rings true in your own life.

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4 impressions

  1. Ah soo true. I often hear students uniting over mutual hatreds and complaints. Would it really be so bad if instead we united over the joyous little things that we are thankful for? This made me think. Thanks!

  2. I have been dealing with the exact same things! It also drives me nuts when I'll comment about how nice the sun looks shining of the red leaves or something like that and people refuse to look beyond their own chilly fingers. I have to keep reminding myself that complaining doesn't help me stay warm or get anything done.


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