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Good Morning Miami: Reevaluating idealism in unprecedented times

GMM
GMM

Oh, good morning Miami, I hope this article finds you well. 

It’s been months since we last spoke, and those months have been filled with a whole lot of anxiety, stress and uncertainty across the board. I figured I would delve right in and chat about what we’re dealing with. 

Some of us are on campus, some of us are not. Classes, as you know, are online, at least until mid-September – possibly longer. We’re back to the lovely virtual world of Zoom, WebEx and Google Hangouts. 

Or, if you’re like me, you really never left that world — my summer internship was completely remote. 

March feels like a lifetime ago, and I can’t tell you how many weeks it’s been since we were sent home in the spring because I’ve lost count. 

Before March, the terms mask, pandemic and social distancing were used sparingly, if hardly at all (at least from what I can recall). The words themselves initially carried a frightening sense of dystopia, and personally I was really hoping all of this craziness would be over by April and a blissful summer would follow.

Wishful thinking? Obviously, yes, because here we are, treading into September, and those three phrases — mask, pandemic and social distancing — still feel frightening, albeit in a different way.

Masks have become the thing you forgot to put in your pocket or purse before trekking to the store. The pandemic itself has spilled into every sector of life, and we’re still unsure how to move forward. Social distancing, well, let’s just say some of us are following that rule, and others aren’t.

I’ll leave it there.

There are a lot of things I miss about the way life used to be, and perhaps the obvious change is the overarching fear that has crept its way into everything from family gatherings to trips to the grocery store to talking with a friend. Anxiety rests over these daily activities like a mist even when we’re not consciously considering it. Not a one of us knows when this pandemic will come to a close, and it’s difficult not to long for an end-date, a concrete day on the calendar where we could see normal resume. 

This is about the time where people tend to swing a sharp turn into political discourse, but I won’t do that. 

Good Morning Miami, at its origin, was a column created for personal commentary, memorable anecdotes and reflection on current events. That’s not going to change. The fact that Nov. 3 draws nearer isn’t unknown to me, and though I certainly have my own political views, they won’t be shared here. 

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I’d rather take a moment to lay out a couple of thoughts that have spun through my head and, perhaps, resemble your own. 

Before this pandemic unfolded, I was an idealist. Older people might call me naive, and they’d probably be correct. I’m 21 years old, and I wholeheartedly admit my life experiences are limited. 

But no matter the reason, I was an idealist in many senses of the word, and when news of the coronavirus first found its way into our email inboxes and Twitter feeds, I did not want to believe it. Yet as the months went by, and April suddenly morphed into June, that idealism started to fade. 

When disappointing news reached my Twitter feed or inbox, I mentally shrugged my shoulders, vented some and then settled into resignation. It felt pointless to complain because by mid-summer, I was used to disappointment. I think we all were. 

That scared me. 

As humans, we crave social connectivity and interaction, and much of that was taken away in a matter of days before we had time to contemplate, much less accept it. 

Resignation felt easy to slip into; idealism felt silly. It felt silly because idealism at its core feels whole-hearted, like it’s all or nothing, but it doesn’t have to be. 

(Nearing the end of the 18-22 age range makes me feel old and young at the same time, and I don’t know that my rosy viewpoint will ever fully return. Perhaps losing some of that idealism was a good thing; it had to happen sometime, I suppose.)

After thinking it over (and overthinking it), it occurred to me that a combination of the real and ideal might be a smart combination for college students. 

This realization reminded me of a passage in one of my favorite books, “The Outsiders,” by S.E. Hinton, when Ponyboy recites “Nothing Gold Can Stay” (a poem by Robert Frost) and it resonates with his best pal, Johnny. (If you’ve never read it, please do. It’s eight lines of stirring poignancy.) The poem conjures feelings of youth, of nature, of fleeting perfection. 

The lines, though sprinkled with idealized imagery, beam with realism. And despite that dose of realism, it’s beautiful. 

Perhaps there’s something there...

@emily_dattilo

dattilec@miamioh.edu

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