Reflection: There is Always Regrowth
One writer reflects on her journey through change and her appreciation for resilience.
As with the beginning of every Dartmouth term, campus now teems with laughter and hugs as students reunite with one another after weeks or even months of separation. But I’ve found that the beginning of spring feels different from the other terms. Though spring break is relatively short, it feels like the student body comes back with a resurgence of energy and vicarious excitement.
There are times when I wonder if that’s because of the re-emergence of the sun, or if it results from some time spent away from the hustle of schoolwork. But I can’t help but feel as though it stems from something inherent about springtime. Spring just brings an air of revival, a renaissance from the dredges of the winter.
I remember a moment during this past winter when I awoke and gazed out my window towards a host of trees all freshly blanketed in white from a storm the night before. The trees themselves looked so brittle carrying the burden of the recent snowfall, as though a strong gust of wind would blow them over, snapping them in half at any second. I wondered then if I, too, looked as fragile as the trees.
At times, this past year was rough for me. I struggled to navigate loss and school and all of the change that accompanies growing older. After my dad passed away suddenly and unexpectedly overnight during the fall term, I spent a lot of time trying to understand what that meant for me and my life moving forward. A lot of my days in the immediate aftermath were spent reverting back to the basics, taking my days one day at a time, my breaths one after the other.
There’s something so vividly existential about loss — especially when it strikes you unexpectedly. Every death that impacts you is a subtle call to action, one that demands that you take a look at your own life and ensure that you are doing your best to live it with meaning. It’s a jolt in which you realize the privilege of living.
I think we often feel overwhelmed with life. I understand how it feels to drown amidst all of the various responsibilities. Even in the midst of this giant change in my life, I continued to feel all of the normal pressures of being a twenty-year old Dartmouth student. I fussed over my assignments and complained about the cold and had weeks of back-to-back scheduled meals and social events. And I felt, and to an extent still feel, a huge amount of cognitive dissonance while going about my days.
One of the most profound realizations I’ve come to throughout all of this is that the ways we spend our days are how we ultimately spend our lives. Our lives are not solely defined by the extremes with which we tend to define them. My life is not just my supposed achievements or failures. It is not made up of just my individual moments, like the day I got into Dartmouth or the moment I found out about my dad’s passing. Instead, my life is determined by my individual actions, and currently it is defined by the time I spend in both my classes and extracurriculars as well as all of the time that I spend with my friends. Our lives are ultimately a compilation of those small moments, and the love that we give and receive within them.
Because when all is said and done, the love that you have shown and the ways you have impacted other people is all that matters. It is one of the only things in this world that we have control over — our love is our legacy. It is one of the only things that will transcend your own existence.
I’ve learned that things happen in this world that are well beyond your own control. One day, a natural disaster hits your hometown, and a few weeks later, your dad dies. Often you’re left wondering, “Well, what’s next?”
Some of these things are inevitable. If you haven’t been tested yet, I can assure that you will in some way or another. But just as those trees in the winter, with their brittle branches and stubby trunks, can hold the weight of all the snow stacked upon them, we too can do the same. We are doing the same — every single day of our lives.
Despite it all, we exist. We laugh, we cry and we think. We continue on living as we do. The snow melts off the trees and the leaves grow back once more and the cycle continues year after year. But resilience propels it all forward.
During spring break my friends and I went to Hawaii to visit our friend Adam Tobeck’s family. On the two hour car ride back from the Kona International Airport, his mom gestured towards the cooled lava flow on the side of the road and explained the process of a volcanic eruption. During an eruption, huge swaths of land are covered in lava, which then cools into a solid layer of rock.
“What’s important, however, is that there is always regrowth,” she said. “When you really think about it, it’s almost a miracle the way the smallest sprouts are able to grow through the solid layer of lava.”
It just so happens that life is resilient. There will always, — always, — be regrowth. And, ultimately, I think it is this resilience that is the true embodiment of the springtime, the undercurrent of vitality that we all subconsciously feel as we bask underneath the sun.
And it is this resilience that my friends and I have decided to celebrate this spring. We’ve christened this spring “Silly Spring” in an effort to spend more time living with intention. We’ve proposed a spring of lightheartedness — a spring in which we spend our time enjoying the small moments that comprise our lives and leaning into the joy, rather than the despair, of inevitable change.
So I propose a Silly Spring for us all, one with more time spent under the newfound sun and with those that we love. Cheers to a spring of living with intention, of laughter and doing what we truly wish to do. Here’s to a spring of treasuring the little moments—one spent blooming and learning to appreciate resilience in all of its forms.