Do nothing.

It has come to the point—where I’m reading Walden by Thoreau of my own volition, and kind of vibing with him. Tuning into the same frequency, as one of my friends would put it.

I want to say that I was fully immersed in every single word, phrase, and paragraph that he used to describe the motions of chopping wood on a cold Monday morning. I really do, but, of course, that would be a lie (apologies Mr. Montgomery). 

It feels quite a bit of time has passed since I’ve read something purely just for the pleasure of reading. I can’t even say I‘ve properly read Walden, when, in reality, I just scrolled past those 172 pages in fifteen minutes pretending I understood Thoreau’s two years, two months, and two days of transcendental revelations in the woods by the pond. I can’t even lie that I feel guilty anymore, when it feels that every action I take must lead to some tangible, metrizable result, this article, a case in point.

Yet, at a certain level, I yearn for everything this man has had over those two years, two months, and two days. The best way I can describe this feeling is, perhaps, a homesickness for a place I’ve never known? A nostalgia for a song that I will have never heard? Something poetic with the future perfect tense thrown in there so it sounds more poetic? 

If you could swap a day with someone who would—?

This man and his cabin please, but that kind of makes me feel like a Pinterest Thief, who is “so about the aesthetics of just like being and literally everything”. 

Then again, what do I know, I, too, am guilty of hopelessly romanticizing a retreat to a nice cabin in the woods and listening to Hozier, Bon Iver, and Phoebe Bridgers on-repeat while gazing at the sea of stars. A few close friends and I, surrounded by halos of mosquitos, all empty-headed and young, at least just for that one night.

“Work hard. Play hard (no, Wednesday shooters is not a good idea).”

I’m sure none of us have heard that slogan before, most definitely not here at Duke. 

Apply to software internships. Work on Leetcode. Apply to dance groups. Send poems to literary magazines. Get rejected and—get rejected (sometimes, they intentionally forget to send the rejection letter, just so you get the chance to write one to yourself :)). Keep your head up? Or was it down? Because I do need to finish writing this paper. Anyways, good luck and try again. Revise my resume. Feel sad. Wallow for thirty-three minutes, realize that’s too much time for emotions, then, work on my CS Gradescope assignment that’s due tomorrow at midnight, half of the time I spend staring at the pretty syntax highlights, so I go to office hours and spend the other half of my time contemplating why tears don’t taste sweeter.

I don’t even like numbers why am I counting so much, and why does half of my major deal with them? Well, I guess that’s one way of learning to manage my food points at WU.

Overwork, overthink, over-practically-every-humanely-possible-action. I tell myself that I’m proud of my calendar, that I spend every hour, every minute, every millisecond accomplishing something. But I’m not. I’m not proud, and I’m a really bad liar when it comes to myself. 

So I’m honest, I’m not always that optimistic stoic person I try to be at Duke, but I firmly believe those two words do not contradict. 

Some days I don’t want to fill out a STINF form, just for the sake of being able to tell myself, at the end of the semester, that I never missed any class any day of the week (I’ll leave the validity of that statement up to you), as if it’s some trophy I can stuff into my imaginary box of things I will never look through again.

Isn’t it a bit early for sophomore/junior slump?

Yeah, it is, and I recognize the immense amount of privilege I get from even just being here at Duke as a sophomore, for even getting the choice to do the things I’m doing. I’m not entitled to any of this time or space. The only reason I even have the time and energy to sit here and write is pure luck. Tiny things bump into other tiny things and, somehow, here I am.

But, seeing the sun, and passing time exploring my own faith, always feels nice, despite any personal issues I may be working out, at least today’s another day I’m fortunate to call happy with my headphones off.

Recently, I’ve been trying to step down more, and spend that time caring for family, friends, and (to the best of my ability) myself by taking inner three-year-old me on a visit to the Gardens, glad to escape somewhere physical and quiet that’s not my dorm room.

In the midst of all this work and chaos, I’m starting to realize there doesn’t need to be a transition to every paragraph, so I want to thank you for reading this article. I have only one plea to make:

If you ever get the time, and feel down for it, even just for a moment—

Do nothing.

And yes I do play the guitar.

Spencer Chang is a Trinity sophomore and an opinion managing editor of The Chronicle's 118th volume. 

Spencer Chang profile
Spencer Chang | Opinion Managing Editor

Spencer Chang is a Trinity sophomore and an opinion managing editor of The Chronicle's 118th volume.


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