Campus life by Zuni Chopra: Time and its deserted turrets – brunch feature

Where do you want to be in 2021?

That question has certainly metamorphosed in our minds now, hasn’t it? The world just doesn’t seem to be adhering to the laws of time anymore. Tomorrow could become today and yesterday could become next week, and somehow, despite every moment we’ve stuffed with productivity, we doubt it would make much difference. I mean – it’s not like we’re going anywhere. Schedules and markers mean little when they rotate, when every week turns in on itself like the unending flip of an hourglass, making little bits of progress in a world that has forgotten there is progress to be made at all.

So in a world such as this, how do you find the courage to continue? “Just take it one day at a time,” some say, patting your arm in a motherly sort of way. With all due respect, I have come to the scientific conclusion (through simple trial and error) that this is in fact terrible advice, to be left to the motivational posters on the walls of stuffy stationary shops. Taking things one day at a time means, among other things, that you lose view of the long-term. Indeed, that has perhaps been the most widespread effect of our circumstances: a terrifyingly uncertain future. At one time, perhaps in the opening weeks of the end of the world, this might have been a good thing; cement yourself in the present moment, focus on what matters, push yourself through. But now that we’ve reached the point of several months of apocalyptic catastrophes, we find perhaps that we need something more substantial than that. We need to know that there is light at the end of this tunnel. It is something that no one, right now, can promise us; and so it is something that we must make for ourselves.

Special moments

May be not in the form of global peace and health, as that is something more to hope for than to plan for, but in the way of other things; things like choosing electives, new Netflix seasons, a craft project that may take a month or two. Find ambitions, expectations, relationships that build up excitement for the days you’re drifting towards; not in a vague, oh I’m so glad it’s nearly the holidays kind of way, but a very specific, I can’t wait for [fill in the blank] type of way. Give yourself the knowledge that you are headed, always, towards something special. For me, these special moments have come, among other things, through Harry Potter. My dad and I sit down in the evenings that seem magical and read a chapter together. We’re currently on the fourth book; and I have to say, getting to see the look on his face as I dramatically revealed the return of Lord Voldemort definitely made my night. And guess what? We’ve still got three more books to go. Endless stories to look forward to. (And I mean – have you seen the fifth one? It’s the size of a phonebook seriously)

Reading a book, choosing electives, new Netflix season can sum up for special moments

Reading a book, choosing electives, new Netflix season can sum up for special moments

Looking ahead

Another bit of advice; try to mark each day with something unique. Obviously this is easier said than done; it’s not like we have a lot of choice for unique happenings at the moment. But sometimes, through discoveries and our own little fulfillment-inducing projects, we can make a day stand out clearly in our memory, despite the haze of general stagnation. Some of my personal favourites have been: Today I learnt to play Fur Elise. Today I baked my first batch of chocolate chip cookies. Today me and my brother went absolutely bonkers and had a Twilight movie marathon. Ok, some of these are more worthy of glorification than others, but you get the idea. Hopefully, at the end of the week, you’ll have seven different memories that matter to you.

So when someone asks you where you want to be next year, you’ll know. You’ll know all that you hope you experience in the months that will pass, if not yet the person you want to become. It’ll change, evolve, and in some cases transform completely, but you’ll still have an answer. In the end, that’s the only way to get through these distorted months – hold deep in your heart the memory of every new and lasting joy, and deeper still the wonder for all the adventures yet to come.

Zuni Chopra is currently a freshman at Stanford university where she’s studying the creative arts. She has authored three books of poetry and one novel. Through this column, she chronicles her journey as an international student leaving home for the first time to study abroad.

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