From Mike Tweedle ’73:
This 2020 certainly isn’t what you expected for your final semester and graduation. All the news is “stay at home, avoid contact with your friends and classmates, the threat of death from an unseen virus.” It can be depressing.
There is not a lot of upside to a pandemic. But you did not get into Knox by being thoughtless and making bad decisions, and now is just the right time to make a few good ones. Above all else, follow the rules of physical isolation (not social isolation!). The pandemic is temporary and we will get through it, as we did with SARS and MERS. There are 60 therapies for COVID-19 being tested as well as a large number of vaccines. Science works! Remember Ebola? There are several working antibody therapies today for the Ebola virus, which is far deadlier than COVID-19. COVID-19 will be beaten even faster.
One upside of this–and other of life’s major detours–is that you have an opportunity to test your intelligence and your will. Great and successful people respond to adversity by adapting, developing a plan of action, and finding meaning in the pursuit of that plan. They stay positive. They look for the bright lights in the darkness. One of my classmates (class of 1973) was Scott Luebking, who suffered a freak accident in the summer after his freshman year that rendered him a permanent quadriplegic. When he arrived for classes again, he was way behind the rest of us and bound to a wheelchair. He went into computer science, worked very hard, caught up, and then then graduated with our class as an honor student. He was a lifelong inspiration to all of us. He went to graduate school, became a professor at UC Berkeley. He was a visionary and futurist and led a life of achievement, always knowing that his life expectancy was limited. He died an extraordinarily accomplished man at 58.
Maybe this time of the pandemic of 2020 is a good one to reflect and to plan. We are meaning-seeking creatures living in a world that often seems meaningless, sometimes adverse to us, even deadly. The trick is to define our own meaning and live for and towards that. This pandemic pause might be just the right time for a young adult to decide on a life path that fits your personality and talent. You may even surprise yourself in the process!