In my writing class today, we talked about our campaigns for campus change. Students observe a problem, identify root causes of that problem, and then write a plan to motivate people to change. We talk about topics like technology addiction, binge drinking, conformity, unhealthy eating, sleep deprivation, and caffeine dependency.
Every semester, I add in my own observations of something I wish were more true of myself and college students.
I tell them that I’m considering launching my own campaign that encourages us to consider more. In other words, I want more time to think carefully about ideas. Etymologically speaking, the word “consider” comes from the Latin and means, “to examine the stars.” I think about this verb in the context of that definition; I want to tilt my head upwards, gaze into the heavens, and consider.
Consider means to think carefully, to look attentively upon, and to contemplate with great care.
I remember my own days at the University of Virginia. I remember the long office conversations about class topics, the dinners with professors in their homes where we discussed ideas, and the hours upon hours that I sat and thought about things. I journaled and sat still in the gardens or on the steps of the Rotunda, and I grappled with ideas about poetry, my faith in God, and what kind of person I wanted to become. I had so much time to think, and there was much to consider.
Now, times have changed. If I have a moment to stop and consider an idea, I’m more likely to check my phone for news and updates. Students agree; free time means technology. Time alone on the bus? That’s for Instagram. Time alone in my dorm? That’s for texting. Like me, they aren’t ever alone with their own thoughts for long periods of time. It’s awkward and painful to sit with your own thoughts like this, so we avoid considering altogether.
One of the reasons I love writing is that it offers space to consider an idea. I still journal. I still sit in my rocking chair and think my thoughts–but not as much as I once did. I wonder what would happen if we sat down for a moment and considered something deeply for a long period of time. I’m considering this today and what it would take for me to go back to that girl inside of me who once sat still on the steps, just to think.