It’s an old question; I’m not taking credit for it, but I am asking. This week in particular, humor is important to think about. Let’s be real, this is a tough time. Just look at all these reasons we have to be sad.

1. The election happened. (DEAR GOD WHY!?)

2. Daylight Savings Time ended. It now gets dark at like 5:00 p.m. and the walk to the Rott is now worse than the food #dormproblems1. But hey, at least you don’t have to walk to your 8 a.m. classes in the dark #notworthit.

3. The Chicago Bears suck, meaning that those of us who get our news about the latest Apple product from Chad Coleman’s Facebook page now have to wade through mountains of depressed Bear fan posts2.

With so much pain out there, how do we ever find the will to go on?

Down here at Merry Lea, we deal with our problems by communing with nature. A fortnight ago, as part of the Sustainability Leadership Semester3, two different professors took us out on consecutive nights to look at the stars and reflect over Beatles’ lyrics. Earlier in the year, we went on a flower walk where we didn’t identify any plant species; we simply appreciated them.

We would gather around a different plant and compliment it on its leaves, or perhaps the strength of its stem, or maybe the colorful flowers blooming from up top. And you know what? After spending an hour complimenting a plant on how good it is at being a plant, you start to feel pretty good about yourself too!

So get out there and compliment some flowers, or trees if you can’t find any flowers, or other people if you feel self-conscious talking to trees, but I find trees to be pretty good listeners.

Chris McCandless (you know, that guy from that book you read in high school) said as he was dying, “happiness is only real when shared.” So go out there and share it. Now is not the time for endless spirals into the death trap called social media that sucks the soul right out of you Dementor style with depressing shared article after depressing shared article.

Now is the time for real life engagement! So engage with somebody. An acquaintance, a friend, a lover, it doesn’t matter, now is the time to get engaged!4

So let’s make our circles a little wider and then squeeze in a little tighter, and as we stand there huddled like penguins against the cold, we can share our concerns and our tears, but also our joys and our laughter. Like those freezing penguins, we need each other. All of us, in a big group hug.

1The author, a senior living at Merry Lea and cooking for himself, would like to say that you first and second years don’t know how good you have it. The Westlawn Dining Hall is a fine establishment with a wide variety of pretty good options that, stay with me here, you don’t have to cook for yourself. Next time you go, thank Chef J for that delicious third cookie you just grabbed.

2The author would like to point out that “Bear fan posts” really rolls off the tongue. Try it.

3The author is legally obligated by the Merry Lea Charter to say, “the Sustainability Living Semester is a great learning experience that makes me very happy and makes me grow as a person and nothing could be better about it. Literally nothing, and it is more important than on-campus classes, and they are accepting applications for next year right now!

4Heck, with all the weddings happening nowadays, not getting engaged appears to be a real faux pas.

David Leaman-Miller is a senior film production major currently participating in the Sustainability Leadership Semester at Merry Lea. He welcomes your comments on the piece.