“All good things must come to an end,” reads the proverb. It’s one I’ve never understood.
I understand fundamentally what it means: that nothing lasts forever. Sometimes, the scale is smaller. We had fun on a vacation and now have to make the sad trek to our flight back home. Sometimes it’s bigger. Friendships end. We graduate. We move and leave our old homes behind.
What I’ve never understood is the idea of finality. When things end, they’re gone forever. And we don’t even know what that means. Infinity is too great a concept for the brain to understand. We have to comprehend it through analogies and illustrations. It is friend and foe; it is mathematically beautiful and realistically terrifying.
It was recently that I realized why finality feels so petrifying to me. It’s because I always think about life as all the things that could have been—the words I never said, the experiences I could have had, all the moments that never were. I live my life stuck in a constant series of “What if?” and “Why not?” and “Could have, should have, would have.” I wish for chances to say one last word to old friends, to go back in time and live years all over again so I don't have to face that grand drop of the ball on New Year’s Eve, to spend one more night in that childhood bedroom in Savannah that my parents let me paint two shades of purple.
But I don’t want to spend another moment as editor-in-chief. Not in the fed-up sense that I hate the position and am ready to move on, but in the sense that for the first time, I have nothing I need to do again. I wanted to turn The Chronicle into a place that I not only intrinsically loved, but one that I liked. And I really, really like The Chronicle.
Memories at The Chronicle have taken the place of my dreams. There is nothing I wish to do. There are just things I’m glad I have done. And the moment I stared out the window at the Chapel, my head swimming with memories instead of stress about the week ahead, I knew it was time for the end. A beautiful end with a Chapel lit up dark blue and laughter echoing from the sports hall.
All ends come from beginnings. We leave beginnings everywhere we go, whether we realize it or not. I watched people become friends. I watched first-years run for leadership positions. I watched people join and graduate from and come back to The Chronicle. Maybe I set precedents in terms of how we hold our institution accountable. Maybe people didn’t like some things I did and are eager to make changes themselves. And even when I’m no longer editor-in-chief, those beginnings will continue to grow. I hope that if those beginnings end—friendships, time spent at The Chronicle, the ways we run our paper—they will be looked back on as being beautiful. I hope they are done without regrets and do not leave room for “What if?”
Most editors take a moment to look back over the year and highlight the coverage they’re most proud of, but as much as I tried to saunter through the website and find the stories worthy of boasting, it felt disingenuous. My time as editor-in-chief was not defined by stories—not because we didn’t have a great year of coverage, but because it was defined by all the beautiful ends and beginnings that we shared together.
It wasn’t reporting on Coach K’s final loss; it was being in the room with everyone during it and walking out in silence together. It was physically being present in the office together at the end of each day and trying to get the first-years back to East Campus before the buses stopped. It was saying goodbye to Volume 117 at Sclafani, our annual banquet—not that anyone really said goodbye out loud, but in the sense that we knew it was our last time all together as a volume—and leaving the office feeling all the love it had to offer. I don’t want to remember being editor as the work we produced; I want to remember it as all the things that happened that made people fall in love with that work every day.
To my friends at The Chronicle: it’s so, so easy to get caught up in what happens next. I also remember walking in the door and realizing I wanted to be editor-in-chief. It’s easy to spend your time here in anticipation of that, trying to impress editors and prepare yourself for what’s to come. But for the love of God, appreciate what is. Appreciate being a staff reporter and picking up the silly little stories about campus or Duke Student Government. Appreciate fixing em dashes and googling AP style tidbits. Appreciate sitting in meetings and listening to people introduce themselves. Don’t spend your moments here just preparing for the next ones, or ends will never feel right.
There’s a lyric from a song—“There Is a Place?” by Pale Young Gentlemen—that happened to come up on shuffle while writing this: “In a certain light at a certain hour, I could stay here, but that don’t feel like me.” Being editor doesn’t feel like me anymore. I have grown and become and loved and lost and everything in between. There is a new me that is ready to move forward into this extremely bizarre world—a world where I’m not editor-in-chief, where I’m just Leah, a Duke student who watches too much reality TV in her free time and wants to be a cardiologist.
And now, like all things, this column comes to an end. I’m okay with that.
Leah Boyd is a Pratt junior and was honored to serve as editor-in-chief of The Chronicle’s 117th volume. She would like to thank everyone in Volume 117 for their wisdom, humor, candor and joy. Loving Duke isn’t always easy, but The Chronicle did teach her how to love this place again, and for that she is eternally grateful.
She’s sorry to Jake for always sitting in his chair in the sports hall. It’s rather comfortable.
Lastly, she’d like to dedicate this column to her late grandfather, Bob, who never got to see her become editor-in-chief, but who taught her that we are never truly gone. She wants him to know the Eagles made the playoffs and Villanova made the Final Four this year. But she’s sorry that the Phillies still stink.
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Leah Boyd is a Pratt senior and a social chair of The Chronicle's 118th volume. She was previously editor-in-chief for Volume 117.