College of Arts and Sciences

Under the circumstances


"Under the circumstances, of course." Yesterday I caught myself tagging on that phrase to my habitual "I'm doing fine, thanks."

Immediately my contextualizing impulse seemed both absolutely essential and absurdly unnecessary. 

No one needs reminding of the circumstances. Soul-searing racist violence. The divisive ugliness of this interminable election year, scarred once more by the
death of an irreplaceable leader. COVID-19.

It's exhausting, at times nearly unbearable. I read that in your eyes, and in those of our students. Seven months into the pandemic, even "Zoom fatigue" feels tired.

Under these circumstances, I find myself relying more than ever on our community. Your determined resilience as well as your honest fragility. Your care for one another and for me. Your candor, your worries, and your stubborn strength.

Silver linings? Yes, I see some of those. If I turn my head just so, the glass sometimes appears half full. After some reflection, I manage to find at least 
some small occasion for thanksgiving each day  I keep learning. And the further ahead I look, the brighter our horizon grows. 

How am I doing? I'm doggedly 
sustaining hope. Under the circumstances.

David Mengel

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