I have been too caught up in silence lately. I had come to start deeply appreciating, particularly in the world of sports, the journalists who knew when to let a moment speak for itself.
In reality, moments, they are beautiful and fleeting and raw, but they say nothing, really. It is our job to bring them to life. The sun does not wake up with the intention of scorching you, for the sun doesn’t even know that it’s hot. You look outside and say yes, it is hot, because we are wearing sunglasses and shorts, drinking lemonade under trees. The moment itself writes nothing, because “there is no why,” Kurt Vonnegut reminds us, the sun has no agenda. It is us that tells that story.
And you know by now, reader, that there are never enough moments. You’re figuring out how to pronounce Alspaugh, your freshman dorm with parlor-style bathroom doors, and then suddenly you’re receiving another “Congratulations on your graduation! Please fill out our survey. Pretty pretty please?” email while typing this silly little farewell column and it feels like it’s happening at the same time. We are “trapped in the amber of the moment,” Vonnegut says. When it comes to time, you are wedged between moments, and there is almost nothing between you now and you later. And time, like the sun, it has no idea of its own force.
There are very few moments we have at Duke and we must bring as many of them as we can to life. Kurt Vonnegut implores us in “A Man Without A Country”: “I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.’” We should tell people that they are funny and make good points and ask where they got their hats. You cannot look back in four years and say all these things at once.
But my four years have passed, and now, I guess I will try.
To my friends at The Chronicle: You are among the most intelligent people I have ever met. You make storytelling look easy, but you make saying goodbye extremely hard. I will miss hearing the echoes of laughter across the office. But I know they will still be there, and isn’t that nice?
To all my friends: You are steadfast and funny and kind. I love to talk over movies with you and sit in silence with you. I am glad we met by whatever circumstances we did. I hope whatever you do after Duke is done with joy. I will miss you dearly and love you earnestly.
To Duke: To love you was a complicated force. You have given me all I could have asked for, yet have so much room to grow. But we challenge you to grow because we love you, right? Because why would we if we didn’t care? I am not the same person I was when I entered your door, and I won’t be the same person when I walk out of here in three weeks. Change becomes less scary when it’s happening to you all the time, and I thank you for facing that fear with me. The Chapel bells play every day at 5 o’clock. I bemoaned them a time or two but now 5 o’clock will be eerily, sadly silent.
Part of what makes these moments so hard to share sometimes, I think, is that in journalism, we must write about the moment without putting ourselves in it. Our ledes cannot say “Duke has lost this basketball game and I am very upset.” because how ridiculous would that be? We have to capture the heavy silence of the stadium and the slow parade of players shuffling into the locker room. We cannot be part of it until long after the moment has been filed to our editor and now we are too exhausted from typing away, anyway. I wish I had taken time to pause and say “If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.” before I worried about what to write. I wish I had breathed life into moments and breathed with them.
What Vonnegut meant in that quote from “A Man Without A Country” is that we don’t often notice when we’re happy. I challenge you to take the time to feel happy and embrace it. That also means acknowledging when you’re angry, sad, not yourself — acknowledging those thoughts and giving them the space to pass through. Sometimes, you can’t quite put a finger on what you’re feeling. The name will come. Breathe life into it. Acknowledge the moments you have while you’re here, so at the end, you can say “If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.” and everyone will know what you mean by that.
Chronicle, I hope I did right by you. I hope I celebrated you and pushed you and loved you as openly as I could. I look back at the four years I spent with you and am happy.
It has been so nice, Chronicle. I will miss you in ways words have failed us.
Leah Boyd is a Pratt senior and served as editor-in-chief of The Chronicle’s 117th volume last year. She worked on the volleyball and women’s basketball beats this year. She is grateful to have been surrounded by such wonderful people every day in 301 Flowers.
She’d like to thank Milla for being her mentor and for teaching her to think more deeply about journalism and why we do it. She could not be prouder of her and looks forward to seeing her byline in the world’s best newspapers. And she thanks Jake for his constant friendship and humor. He made the job of sports editor look easy, no matter how chaotic the news cycle was. She is very grateful for the times he ran across campus (or the country) in his flip flops to cover breaking stories.
She’s thankful to Sasha for her leadership and brilliance; the entire sports department for making her feel so welcome this year; Carter for telling her she should run for editor at Cookout; Babu for gossiping with her during meetings and making her laugh constantly; Em for teaching her so much about women’s basketball and always encouraging her during her time as a beat; Matthew and Jake for giving her a lot to live up to in their terms as editors; and Chrissy, without whom absolutely nothing we did, do and will do would ever be possible.
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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.