It has been a bitter winter. The elements have long frustrated us as we sojourned from one locality to the next, but other forces press more heavily on us than snowflakes. Constant paperwork and brainwork not only wear on the body, but goad at the soul. Fatigue burdens many a sojourner, and in that instant what the old shaman said about the preciousness of rest is manifest. After mid-term week, few are the sojourners overfilling with abundance of spirit, but many are they who merely scramble by on bare subsistence. This is not how reality should be, but the demands and requirements upon us no more intend to make us miserable than the raw cold of winter. Few are those who enter into the wintery midst without dressing properly for its hazards. Winter is what you make it to be. You can make it miserable for yourself by introducing the tenderness of an unshod foot to the icy cool mixture or you can put your boots on. Wearing boots does not make the snow any warmer to the naked foot. It is the boot on the foot that protects the foot.  

     Those months that express themselves in such cold raiment are not so unlike our common college experience. Winter may be cold on the body, but college can make the soul quiver. It is wrong to claim that winter intends to make you cold; to say that college intends to beguile you is equally absurd. That is the nature of these two things, winter, and college, and it is unchangeable. Winter is unpleasant just as college is disillusioning. There are moments of marginality but these are admittedly passing phenomena. The harsh reality is that the housing debacle may not yield a preferable result nor even a decent one. Course work may prove unsatisfactory despite the concerted effort, taxing many a student. Relationships may be lost in the squalor of a storm. Illnesses have plagued us and will continue to do so. This is the winter of our discontent; that things are not the ideal that we all desire. They just are an ugly reality before us as bitter as the winter wind. Rather than taking up a senseless argument with the sky to complain that the snow is too much or the wind to biting, we had better counter the snow and wind with the appropriate attire. The same holds true with our college experience. Sojourners, college is what you make it to be. It may be cold, but you can still effectively interact with it by seeking out the good things about it this coming wellness week.  

     There is a race of people in the far north that practice being grateful for the snow. They make their very homes with it and these dome structures, called igloos, are more suitable to these people in winter than are their summer tents. This gratitude is what helps them to overcome the elements. Yes, college and winter are not pleasant conditions for the majority of those who as a means interact with them. The Eskimos, Innuits, and Aleuts of our American Arctic do not find the snow to be the best thing, but only they found a use for it and thus are grateful for its shelter. They are not grateful for the cold, but they are grateful for their ability to stay warm and protected from the precipitation. Winter brings both cold and snow, just as college albites both disillusionment and resources to soften its negative effects.     

     Like the Arctic people, may we sojourners make the best that we can out of college even if it is not what we expected or even wanted. The very structure containing a course within it that tries you has within its nature a help like the snow, that being the learning center or your professor. The same environment you experience mental and physical trials within also contains a help, that being the counseling center and campus nurse. Sometimes lost relationships come back; other times that ship is lost at sea but all around are other sea worthy vessels in whom you can find solace. The housing debacle is a disaster, but you will still have a roof over your head even if it is an undesirable one. What good is there to come of the mess? College is what you make it to be. You can make it miserable by focusing on a lost hole in the wall and all the special uniqueness that has become associated with it. For myself, I am contented to find some hollow to inhabit. The library is still quite nice.  And do you not love the chimes at noon, even if their ringing is two minutes slow? College and winter may be foreboding, but do as the people of the arctic do; when life brings you bitterness, build an igloo from it. Any disillusioning disaster can be made less foreboding by how it is responded to, even though it can still hurt like that tingling moist sensation experienced by being hit in the face with a snowball. Be grateful for what you can be grateful for because, like boots or an igloo, this will inevitably protect you from some less than ideal circumstances.


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