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Staying In and Getting Real: Current Events Roundup, Part One

It seems like I’m always doing “part ones” of series. But anyway, enough about me, so how are you?

I had a pretty productive day, I guess, but instead of going out tonight (it’s a Monday, so it’s par for the course, but whatevs), I decided to stay in, watch TV, and do laundry.

And of course, what is all over the news is pretty shocking. In case you’ve been off the grid for the past few hours, there was an explosion at an Ariana Grande concert in England, with 19 people dead, most likely all teenagers or preteens. It’s shocking and troubling, and all over every news and social media platform out there.

But what a lot of people don’t realize is that this week was a gigantic victory elsewhere in the world that no one seems to be celebrating – 82 of the 200+ girls who were kidnapped while taking exams at their school in Nigeria have been found and returned to their parents. When I heard this news yesterday, I was truly elated. I can’t imagine what those families must have been feeling, and the relief that even though the girls endured much horror, they seemed to be happy and healthy to be back with their parents. I couldn’t stop clicking through YouTube videos of the happy reunions. I’ve always thought that if what had happened in Nigeria happened in the USA or Canada or England, the entire world would be up in arms, and not forget after a few days like they did when it happened 3 years ago. I’ve actually been thinking about it since it happened, I even remember where I was when I first found out about it, getting ready to embark on my first Summer Odyssey back in 2014. It was shocking then, and it’s stayed with me consistently ever since. Although I’m really happy that those 82 are back, in addition to the 50 or so others who’ve escaped/been rescued over the years, there are still around 100 unaccounted for, which is way too many people to just forget about.

And just like the parents of the kids who died, were injured, or are MIA in Manchester right now, the parents of the Nigerian girls haven’t forgotten, despite the world seeming to do so.

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Some Thoughts on a Sunday

The busyness of school is on in full force. Despite only having four days of class this past week, I’ve already got readings to do and assignments to think about. The weekend went by in a blur as well; I can’t believe it’s already Sunday night and I have to be awake in eight hours to start my week.

Nothing very interesting happened to me this weekend; I found some geocaches, saw a few friends, went to a pre-semester APO meeting, and got all my reading done up to Tuesday.

So far, being back in Madison has felt strange. I haven’t quite yet developed a routine, and I feel a bit lonely at times; it seems like I’m surrounded by undergrads that are perpetually hanging out, yet I can’t find anyone to hang out with. I am focusing on building better relationships and friendships with people I already know, with hopes that this year will be different than last year, at least on a social level.

Of course, when I do get this time alone, I usually do one of a few things: look up stuff on the internet, play games on my phone/iPad, and think. I could probably benefit from some more focused thoughts, but today I thought a lot about freedom.

Hokey as it may sound, I don’t think that we, as human beings, embrace and appreciate our freedom enough in our daily lives. If you are reading this, you are alive and free, which are two pretty incredible things if you think about them. I can stay in my apartment or I can go outside. I can eat and drink whatever I want, whenever I want. I can go out and get a big fancy meal or make something in my kitchen. I can walk around my apartment in my underwear. Which is not an uncommon occurrence when I am alone. I spent some time today meditating on recent and not-so-recent events in the news: Boko Haram, ISIS, and the like. There are people out there who don’t have the freedom they deserve, so we, as free human beings, should live with twice the vitality that we normally do, because we are free and we are alive. Go ahead, have that extra slice of pie, introduce yourself to a neighbor, smile at a stranger, sing on your way to school or work, or just wiggle your toes.

Soak up all the freedom that you can absorb.