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Waxing Winter: A Reflection on March 2020-January 2021

Ten Months. Ten months ago, my sophomore year was turned inside out and upside down. A worldwide pandemic turned my Spring semester into watching winter ebb away from my living room window. Instead of seeing a Mexican art exhibit art the on-campus art museum or going out for ice cream with my Newman Center during finals, I spent the last seven weeks of my semester staring at zoom while every class became virtual at the drop of a hat. Ironically, I came out of that semester with the highest GPA I had ever gotten in college. If someone can explain that please do...because I really can't.

Now ten months later, I sit half way done with junior year, at the beginning of my spring semester and think I thought it would all be over by now. Expectations are rarely what become reality. But I have learned to embrace this wacky time. I may do better in face-to-face environments for classes, but online is not so bad. At least I can sit in my dorm room and not worry about walking across campus in below freezing temperatures (mostly). I may wish I didn't have to wear a mask and the distancing wasn't still the norm in the dining hall and classrooms, but in the end I can't control a virus or the reaction of others (in what ever form immune or others) to it. While I wish the virus had been treated ONLY as a medical and not a political issue, I can not change what the larger response was to it. In a funny way I got to learn a little history because of Corona, that the Spanish Flu in 1918 had three waves (I think we may be in the third , and hopefully final, wave of the coronavirus pandemic.). I learned that reactions and measures to mitigate the Spanish flew were at least as varied as the ones to the coronavirus (the coronavirus may have had more varied responses).

In a previous post, I mentioned how masks could function as symbols or as idols (sometimes both), and since then I have really seen the emphasis on masks wax and wane like the phases of the moon. While now as a spike in cases has somewhat renewed the fervor for mask wearing, it should also renew, at least for Christians, the determination to not make masks an idol. I know I have struggled with this. I just want everything normal again, and thought perhaps by now it would be normal again. Though, I am tired sometimes of the constant coverage which sometimes can I feel creates more fear rather than dissipating it, I cannot control what the media companies do or how they choose to cover this worldwide issue that extends far beyond Indianapolis or Muncie, IN.

As cases rise, I wonder are we at the end of the pandemic and this is the final and most deadly time we will have or is it simply a "next phase" of the pandemic and we have yet to see the worst. Whether it's the former or the latter, I can definitely decide to err on the side of empathy and compassion. I may not enjoy wearing the mask and may sometimes the level I get annoyed at it for fogging up my glasses exceeds rational understanding, but if I must wear it for the sake of another's sanity, I am fine. I know that together we will make it through the pandemic. Regardless, if the media coverage of it is to impassioned or too dull and dry, the focus should be on those who suffer in the hospitals not on the screens in our homes. Though we may not be able to visit Covid patients, there must be a sensible way to still serve them despite the circumstances. I am not sure how this can be accomplished, but if even a few come together it can surely get done.

Though I do think we must change our focus from fear of the virus and the negativity surrounding the policies or coverage of it to gratitude. I am thankful that as of yet I have gotten the virus. If I do get the virus, I will be grateful for I get to empathize not just sympathize with those who contracted it before me. If I never get it during this pandemic or in my life, I will be grateful at least to see people who courageously fought the virus (whether outwardly, inwardly, or both) .

Though, I may have disliked the lockdown or even sometimes get tired of the news and rhetoric surrounding Covid I still find much to be grateful for (besides not having gotten the virus, yet). As stated in a previous post, I have spent a lot more time outside, yes even now in the cold. I have been able to witness the season changes more readily from winter to spring, spring to summer, summer to fall, and fall to winter. I have come to appreciate how each season brings its own unique beauty to nature. Recently, on a walk with my dad, I realized there's something beautiful about how when the leaves have disappeared from all the trees, each tree's unique shape can be seen more readily than when it's covered with leaves.

In the midst of the all the restrictions, it seems family both near and far have connected more than perhaps we would in a typical year. Thus, zoom meetings (Google meets as well) have been a staple. While sporadic visits have occurred, there has been caution taken to the extent necessary to keep everyone safe. Sometimes the zoom meetings have just been times to catch up, other times, especially with my immediate family, these meetings have been a chance to play Jackbox TV games with one another. Just before returning to school, my dad's side of the family met (via zoom) to play Sporkle trivia as celebration for my Godfather Tony's birthday. It was amazing to find out who knew what facts even if it was sometimes luck.

The pandemic has also given my family the chance to play boardgames both new and old. My brother, Stephen got Ticket To Ride for his birthday from the rest of us siblings. It is a game where you have to build trains to complete routes to get points, but beware not completing routes means loss of points. Another new one for my family has been 7 Wonders. it's a little complicated to explain here. The gist of it is there's three large rounds (called Ages) where there are rounds played until each player has only two card remaining in his or her hand. Each player starts with seven cards passing them (to the left or right depending on the Age) as the game continues on. Each wonder board has a day and night side. Each player has a wonder (pictured on a card of its own) they can build if they so choose. This is within a city. After each Age you battle, during the rounds you can build up your military by building red military cards. OF course to build up the military you will either have to spend money from your treasure or make sure you have the resources to build it. This goes for most other cards as well. You battle you neighbors to your right and left. If you win you get a token of either 1, 3, or 5 victory points and if you lose you get a minus 1 token. With each turn, you choose one cared to use. This card can be played which gives you whatever is on the card be it a resource, building, or victory points, discarded for three coins, or used to build your wonder ( assuming you have the resources to build the wonder stage you are on). At the end of the game, certain cards are scored along with your treasure (money) and the wonder stages you built. The highest score wins. This game takes long at first, but once you have played the game goes by quick. All these games haver brought out different sides of all my family members including myself. I however, do partially regret choosing to play the night side of the Giza (spelled Gizah on the board) plateau. I completed my wonder but at cost to me being able to build it quickly.

This Pandemic also saw me be more vigilant about trying to write on this blog. Though I have just begun to try to be more proactive about it, I gain much joy from just sitting down to write. It's not a diary necessarily (I have one those already.), but it is a place where at least can share my thoughts. I have learned much during this time of Corona and while it looks like it could be a time before thing go back to what I consider or anyone considers normal, it is nice to find gratitude for anything that is positive that has come from resulting circumstances of the pandemic.

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