Picture of students using computers in the library

Seasonal Sand Shark Sagacity

November 16, 2013

As we get older I think sometimes it is natural for the holiday season to lose the “magic” that it once used to bring us. However as you read these words, I hope you find yourself inspired by a recognition of life, inspired with a purpose, and inspired to remember and hope for a magical season. It is with a bit of pride that I confess a trust: that you will be even further inspired by our Sand Shark kind.

The other night as I walked with my dad he turned to me and said “I’ll tell you, Christmas was so much more fun when you girls were little”... Not to say it’s all because my sister and I aren’t little girls anymore that ALL the fun is ruined-- but I think what my dad was saying is as we age-- life changes, and sometimes we miss what once was or what was once dreamed of.

My Sister (R) and I (L) Christmas 1995

holiday season       Sometimes families aren’t able to be together for special holidays, sometimes the rollercoasters of life complicate the seasons, and we sometimes have trouble finding the happiness, finding the freedom and the magic that comes with holidays of thanks, and holidays of gift giving, and holidays of love, celebration, and hope.

Yet there are moments that sweeten the “changed times”, I am talking about those times that we may better recognize as: “it’s just not the same” or “it just doesn’t feel the same anymore” -times. Yet they are undoubtedly sweetened in memories shared, and in new futures dreamt. We may even find ourselves in a moment where we help someone submerged in the obstacles of life into a loving embrace. Moments like those are what make moments of Thanksgiving, moments of Hanukkah, moments of Christmas, moments of Kwanzaa, moments of New Year’s celebrations—happen anytime of the year. The best part is- all the magic of the holidays can flood into that one singular moment.

The seasons can be hard times for a lot of people, even those “fortunate”, because we all share something in common: we feel, we love, we suffer --and sometimes so much so we can become lost in isolation and forget we can help others, or that others want our help, or that even we may be helped. When we remember this --sometimes it is then that a person may first realize that we each have an importance, a future, a role in life.

I was inspired to write this piece by Darnell Barton. Although I heard his story weeks ago it still lingers in my mind, and every time I go back to his story or watch him speak- my eyes well up with tears. Darnell Barton is 37 years old, he is a husband and father, and he works as a bus driver in upstate New York. On his daily route Darnell saw a woman standing on the edge of the overpass he was driving on. Not only did Darnell notice her, but he noticed the hustle of life passing her by-continuing on past her, and listening to Darnell you can hear he knew that he was there at that time, in that moment, for that person. To know we are here for another or that another is here for us, to know that we can find home in someone who helps us off a ledge, or that we can find happiness and magic in a bus of passengers giving us a standing ovation to express their love to us for loving another,—to know these things-- is knowing the dream that each child still intrinsically knows and is excited by in the magic of holidays.

I think all around us we have opportunities to create change, so much so it can become overwhelming or confusing, but if we simply stay aware and listen to what is around us in the way Darnell did, I trust that it will bring the real and good and true differences to our world. In the coming week another one of those opportunities is coming. I hope we are inspired to take it in. USCB will be endeavoring in Homelessness Awareness. As you venture onto the campus or through your week and events that may be inclusive of this effort I hope we may find those moments where we can walk out on someone’s ledge and help pull them in. My dream is that I can experience this Christmas as the Christmas with all the same feelings I used to have as a little girl --even if in a simple moment, and I dream that I can share that with someone else.

As Sand Sharks, I do believe we are ferocious, which doesn’t sound very “Thanksgiving-ny” or “Christmas-y”, and seems a little aversive to the tone of this writing, but this is why I unfold the ferocity here: we have this impressive capacity to use the ferocity in caring, loving and supporting others. In my human biology class for example, we presented projects on each our own selected disease effecting a specific system of the human body. Each disease my classmates and I chose and presented on --was either by our choice one we knew someone had or one we ourselves had. The applause after each presentation was loud and profuse, and that kind of support spoke beyond the presentations, and the world to my heart. It is even in things like that I feel holiday magic.

...OR something even as simple as a fellow student I don’t know, teaching me how to use the milk dispenser in the cafeteria. The fact that he saw and cared. This is what I am talking about --and my fellow Sand Sharks have it, are finding it, are honing it, and growing it, making it contagious and a reality. I think our world is too-- or at least struggles to, and struggle is good, because it means effort, and effort means growth, and growth means change.

As you enter into the holidays think of Darnell Barton, think of my USCB Human Biology class with Dr. Zientek, think of the person who does not have a home and the one who leans in to help them, think of the guy that tells you how to use the milk dispenser in your cafeteria. Do you know that saying: “it’s the little things”? It is a bit of a paradox-- because the littlest things are usually always the biggest.

Yours Truly: A Sand Shark Submerged in the Holiday Magic,

                                                                                                    Erin Dailey