I met with President Jim Brenneman early in the semester to touch base about campus news and Record plans for the semester. Our discussion eventually wandered to other topics more inspiring than budget cuts, bringing us to an idea President Brenneman called “the second naiveté.” How do we balance the tough, often discouraging situations and issues of life (from budget cuts to international conflicts) yet still fully engage in the joyful moments of daily life?That day we met to chat, President Brenneman said one of his favorite days on campus so far had been the day students returned to campus. The place was full of life again, he said. He could wholeheartedly enjoy the shouts across campus as students saw each other again after three months of summer, and reconnect with fellow administrators and faculty members again. People—students, in fact—are the reason Goshen College exists, and budget cuts nor any other ugly issue facing campus can damper the fact that we have excellent students enrolled at Goshen today.
Another example President Brenneman shared was that the stress that his job can bring sparks the need for a quality chick flick once in a while. In fact, he said, the other night he sat down and watched the movie “Valentines Day” with his wife. Sometimes you just need to do something fun; we can all attest to this.
During the last few weeks of the semester, projects accumulate, hours of sleep dwindle despite our best attempts to rewind the night and sleep another 5 hours, and studying for exams sits in the back of our minds like an ominous dark storm cloud. On top of this, there are probably copious amounts of people struggling with issues too personal to share publicly. How do we embrace the positive moments during these weeks?
Like President Brenneman said, sometimes you just need to kick back. Do something you love, and really enjoy it. Go for a walk while it’s sunny out, play a game of raquetball, drink hot cocoa and watch your favorite movie with a friend. Going through rough or stressful times doesn’t mean moments of happiness and regeneration can’t be found. Living “the second naiveté” means making room for genuine consideration of the joys in life, while also holding and honoring the stress or pain in one’s life. Putting one of these opposing experiences on the back burner for a while doesn’t mean it’s negated; perhaps it’s necessary in order to fully experience the other.