Most weeks, I do some of my best thinking about my editor’s note while I’m out walking my dog. It’s when ideas, themes and titles pop into my head because there’s nothing else competing with my thoughts. It’s a reprieve from my busy days to just do a bit of thinking.
Yesterday, while wandering my neighborhood breathing in cold air and marveling at pretty holiday lights, I thought, “Yes! ‘Same as it ever was.’ That’s a perfect title!” I felt inspired and clever. When I got back to my computer, I realized there was just one problem — I had already used that exact same title and theme in a previous note. Not one that I wrote seven years ago when I first started writing these, but Oct. 14. This year. Less than two months ago and I had no memory of it.
I blame this strange, pandemic world for messing with my brain. I’ve ordered things from the grocery store I already have and forget things I need. I feed the dog twice and leave wet laundry in the washer overnight. I get distracted and read lines of books over and over, and then when I pick it up again, forget what happened in earlier chapters. I don’t believe I have any real deficiency; I truly believe it stems from the mental and emotional exhaustion we’re all dealing with right now.
I believe this because I’ve heard stories from others. A friend drove all the way to Target to return something, couldn’t find it anywhere in her car, drove home and realized she had already returned it the day before. My husband is constantly asking me what day it is. My coworker and I have many discussions about whether we’ve already published something or not. We’re all experiencing tiny lapses.
This is hard. It’s really, really hard. And as we hear of more cases and have to cancel more things, “same as it ever was” is exhausting. But we will make it. We will get back to those things that are the same as they used to be, and not the same as they are right now.
Samantha Barringer, a music education sophomore and one of two drum majors in the Spartan Marching Band, is missing the way things used to be. I can’t imagine her disappointment after earning her prestigious position only to have the season canceled. Yet, she remains incredibly upbeat and driven toward the future. She says, “We're going to get through it and we're not giving up, we're not letting it get in our way, we're just going to make the best of it and get through it together.” Watch the video Spartans behind the masks — Samantha Barringer to learn more about this determined young woman.
All Spartans are making the best of it. We’re still working, learning, teaching and conducting research to make a difference. Four of our outstanding scientists were recently honored by being named fellows by the prestigious American Association for the Advancement of Science. Others are studying age biases, managing a massive historical database and offering advice for pet owners.
Did you know that a couple of Michigan’s important industries related to the holidays, Christmas trees and chestnuts, have Spartans and science to thank for improving them? Check out the article The science of the season to learn more about it.
Even though all of those researchers are brilliant, I’m guessing they’ve also had their moments where they’ve struggled because of the pandemic. Maybe they dropped a test tube, miscalculated a number or left out a word.
So, don’t be too hard on yourself the next time you wash a dish twice, forget to bring in the mail or miss a deadline. Cut yourself a little slack and know that this is temporary. We’re all doing the best that we can. We are strong. We are Spartans. Same as it ever was. #Spartans Will.