A reflection on past chapters: accepting change in midst of COVID-19

Sydney Alper, Editor-in-Chief

Like many of the families stuck inside their home during this time of social distancing, mine decided to clean and organize everything in the house. It was easy to sort through my clothes and knicknacks, but going through my bookshelf, or rather my bookshelf and all the other places in my room where I kept books, was an entirely different story.

I pulled out books that I haven’t read since middle school, dystopian fiction that represented the quintessential angsty phase of the early teenage years. I pulled out my Harry Potter books with their spines cracking from use and the pages worn from countless read-throughs. I pulled out books about faeries and vampires and witches, from the time where I was convinced that when I turned 16, I too would encounter my magical inheritance. 

But I also saw books from my more recent years, books about politics and journalism and scary psychological thrillers. 

There in my hands, I held something that marked the passage of time, that visibly showed my change of taste, my maturity. 

For years, I had been holding onto books that I would never read again, that I have no interest in reading now. I kept those books simply to have them, to cling onto a part of my life I would never get back. 

I wanted to keep them, to go back to the time when I read them, to the time before COVID-19, before the looming pressure of college, before high school, before I changed. 

But I didn’t. I stacked the books up and placed them in bags that would be given to the library when I am next allowed to go.

After all, the reality is that I am different, I have changed, and those books don’t have the same meaning to me anymore. Keeping them would simply take up space on my bookshelf, space better served for new books, new stories, new opportunities to grow. 

As we continue through a time of crisis, the reality that our world may never be the same again, that we may never go back to the exact same life we had before the recent outbreak, becomes more and more pressing. 

I’ll be the first to admit that the uncertainty of our new way of life is pretty scary. I, too, long for things to go back to the way they were. But that simply isn’t going to happen. Holding on to those ideas of the way life should be, the way life was pre-COVID-19, does no good.

It takes up an unnecessary amount of space in our mental bookshelves, preventing the growth of new ideas and hopes. 

We can still appreciate our time before this crisis for what it was, for the lessons it taught us, for providing us with that version of “normal.” But now is the time for moving on, for accepting that life will never be the same again, and that is just going to have to be okay. 

I may not have turned into a faerie on my 16th birthday or learned that I had magical powers, but I am part of the generation that is inheriting a world we have the power to create. We may not have magic, but we are armed with knowledge and a new, hopeful outlook on life.

At the end of the day, we can choose to set aside a stack of books, a way of life, embracing the empty spaces it leaves behind, or we can cling to memories, letting ourselves stay caught in the past. 

Learning to accept change, to move on is challenging work, but sometimes, all it takes to start is taking a good long look at your bookshelf.