Mental Hikes During Quarantine
Eshanee BhattacharjyaEnergy & Environmental Engineering, Year 3
A bunch of hungry and enthusiastic university students,
unaware of what tomorrow has in store.
Evidently Morningside stands out amongst the rest of the CUHK colleges. Despite our relatively modest size, our multicultural student body endorses a tight-knit community for valuable cultural exchange and a strong support system to encourage us through difficult times. This year could not be more of an appropriate testament to the resilience our community has fostered. Many things went wrong, and serendipitously, many things went right. During this challenging academic year, first with political unrest in Hong Kong, followed by an unexpected global pandemic, the Morningside College Rangers (MCR) faced many hurdles in developing our community.
With increased interest not only from Morningsiders but also students from other colleges, we embarked on an optimistic start with Grass Island in September, followed by the popular cycling event to Tai Mei Tuk in October, and finally ending with a relaxed camp at Ma On Shan. However, little did anyone expect this to be our last event of the year. Many of our expectations were left unrealised, but we learned many valuable lessons along the way.
More often than not, our efforts and patience go unrewarded. But happiness can bloom from misery.
You can spend countless hours planning and preparing for an event, or developing a piece of work, or applying for new opportunities - but there’s no guarantee that hard work will pay off. Unfortunately, Murphy’s law is real, and we may find ourselves victim to it during our most vulnerable times. We experienced that in MCR, with so much going into our event planning - budgets, trials, maps, designs - and seeing it ultimately crash thanks to a scenario only witnessed in apocalyptic movies. It was quite disheartening. However, not all is hopeless. We can learn to instead do things because we enjoy putting in the effort, thus rewarding ourselves with intangible metrics like friends, happiness and knowledge. This may be hard to do, since we’re so accustomed to measuring using tangible scales. Thankfully this outbreak has allowed us to reflect on ourselves and mature, thus reevaluating our priorities.
Sometimes it’s not about how far we got but the memories we made along the way.
The only certainty is uncertainty.
Ironically, restricting ourselves during quarantine made me realize the internet and our minds allow us boundless freedom. A wise man once said, “With great freedom comes great responsibility”, and this rings true, as too much freedom can lead us to aimless or careless efforts. In the current age of information, we have insane levels of access to abundant liberties and opportunities, and as most ambitious youth, we will try to set out on trailblazing adventures, more often than not to no avail. Just like a hike, following an established path unobstructed by weeds allows us to clearly reach an end goal, whilst taking the road less travelled may lead us into danger. However, not every path is as obvious to the naked eye, and that’s where the unexpected outcomes of choice happen. But the first person to set foot on that path covered in weeds was probably also aimless, and somehow made a way for others. So even if sometimes our freedom of choice may make us feel aimless, lost, and impulsive, we might just be making a great change without knowing it. The only certainty we have is the presence of uncertainty in everything we do; by overcoming the initial response of denial and being adaptable to whatever this possibly crazy outlandish scenario may be (cough...cough), is the only way we can ensure our survival..
Freedom can be aimless, and our destinations not clear. Time to walk through the grass and make a way where there has never been one.
As determined young students, many of us may have felt stripped of opportunities and even safety. Similarly in MCR, we faced a lot of struggles and weren’t prepared to make some arrangements. But there’s a silver lining to every cloud. Hopefully all of us can reflect on our insights during this almost-apocalyptic situation and those insights will become our armor against future life struggles - and oh boy there will be many. As far as we know, we only get to suffer through life once - let’s make it worth it.