If my goal is to inform you, I would be wasting all of our time telling you this semester has been different. Not different like the transition from freshman fall to freshman spring, when you gain the rejuvenating feeling of the returning to a place you now know as home. Not different like the transition (I could only assume) from senior fall to senior spring, when you have the bittersweet combination of gratitude and anxiety. These “differents” are expected and a right of passage of the life we have all selected as college students. This different was not expected, it was not welcomed, and it was not anything that we accepted as a “part of life.” This was a forced different; one that tested our will-power, our discipline, our self-awareness, and our perspectives. I, for one, learned a lot about myself, and used the forum posts (that I did not disappear from) as an outlet to share these findings with all of you. While the tone was seemingly pessimistic and self-deprecating, as Dr. McCoy noted with a comment “How can I support you in being less mean to yourself?” on our eighth forum post, the message was more my attempt at noticing, sharing, and hopefully providing an outlet of solidarity for my peers. In a time that is full of differents, any opportunity to find something that is the same would serve as a great life preserver.
In the beginning of the semester, as we started the trilogy, we meet Lilith as she reviews her routine in the empty room. I understood her life of repetition, days blending, and losing track of time, but I had no sources to allow me to empathize with her. Shortly after this, I became a contact of COVID-19 and immediately understood. Some days, a 24-hour day felt like five times that; other days, 24 hours felt like two. I tried to keep busy, but some days it just did not seem worth it. When there is no end in sight (two weeks feels like quite a while when you are stuck in one room), any kind of work you put in to benefit your future self, such as exercise, homework, or even proper diet feel like a waste of your energy if you will seemingly never reap the benefits of that work. Some days, motivation is high enough to exercise, complete a few long projects, do some work online, and clean the one room you can remain in. Other days, you feel defeated, lethargic, and unmotivated without seeing the purpose in this work you are doing. Of course, her time in isolation and wondering was far longer than the two-week period, but during that time I was able to reflect and draw a few more thoughtful connections between our modern day and the social situations within the trilogy. Unfortunately, the biggest thing I noticed was the similarities we shared for fear of the unknown.
The second child Lilith has within the trilogy, Jodahs, is the first mix between Oankali and human. For this unknown hybrid, Jodahs is exiled and cast out. The reason for this exile, and most exiles, is fear or anger. These negative sentiments breed fear within societies with the knowledge that exile is possible, and an option. While this caution is sometimes warranted, the fear of it is what drives the society, not the reason for it. Currently, we are in a time in which people live every day with the risk of being temporarily exiled if they contract COVID-19 or even come in contact with someone who has contracted the virus. Caution is obviously important, but fear is driving a majority of the population. This fear was able to be preyed upon by media and politicians to drive their agendas based on these emotions. This brings me back to our discussion of disinformation and harm, information and care, and more specifically the link that differentiates propaganda, misinformation, and disinformation. (Disinformation infographic). In a time that has so much varying information coming from varying sources with varying validity, the part of the aforementioned forum that speaks the most to me is about care. The lack of human connection in exile and isolation is detrimental to our health. With the knowledge that we could potentially be sent to isolation, whether in our homes or a hospital, it should be so that the available human connection (whether virtual or socially distanced) would be accepted with open arms and even sought after. Instead, at least from my noticing, there has been an overall lack of that genuine, positive human connection.
This semester has been by far my hardest semester. I began this piece speaking of how different this semester has been for us. I, unfortunately, have taken the path of negligence, lethargy, and absence, and for that, to all of you, I apologize. Throughout my self check-ins, the hardest part was evaluating my interactions with my peers. Due to my absence and passive observation of the class, I did not provide any of you with the energy you deserved. Thank you to those of you who chose the path of discipline and hard work, I hope to once again join you there next semester. The entire semester, I have been trying to figure out why this semester has been so difficult, and only now, whilst concluding this piece, I have finally figured it out. My life, like many of our lives, is great. I am lucky enough to be in a healthy, productive, prosperous relationship with my partner, I have the unconditional love and support from my family, I am blessed with a healthy and able body to keep myself active, and I have truly been able to notice my own happiness and growth. When we were exiled from each other, told to keep to ourselves for the greater good, and to no longer see some of the people for whom we have the most love, major parts of this great life were taken from me.
Our second forum of the semester discussed the similarities in the etymologies care and harm share. As we read within the prompt: “Ward remarked ‘Care can exist as violence./Violence can exist as care’.” Until recently, I did not understand how this could be possible; how could you care for yourself to such a point that it could cause harm? I now, final understand. I care about my family, who I was unable to see for thanksgiving because of the fear of infecting them with the virus I had come into contact with; I care about my education, which had its best part, the human interaction through learning and growing, taken away this semester; I care about my friends, many of which I have not been able to see for months as a part of the responsibility we all share to limit our circles. Because of the amount of care through which I live my life, it becomes harmful when a good majority of it is taken from me through means out of my control. When these things were removed from my life, I chose to shut down and just barely crawl to the end of the semester. For this path, I am grateful, for I now know what I need to do to avoid this in the coming years. For this prompt, and this opportunity to explore my own emotions and thought processes with our literature and dialogue as the medium, I am further grateful, as it has helped me in discovering and thinkING about myself and my perspectives with a new light of optimism and hope. This different semester has significantly added, and somewhat overwritten, my original text. With the require time, effort, and care, I hope that my palimpsest will soon reveal the traces of my old writing once again.