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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Engrossing: From tragedy comes perspective

Published: March 25, 2011
Section: Opinions

Wednesday morning, I walked into my 10 a.m. class, fresh off of an all-nighter, groggy, waiting for the caffeine coursing through my veins to reach my brain (because that’s totally how it works) and generally hating the world.

The week had been too much already. Twenty pages of writing, a midterm, extracurricular work, housing drama and interpersonal tension had left me completely drained and utterly miserable.

Pondering my unhappiness, I took my seat, turned on my computer and went about my pre-class rituals.

I checked my e-mail, pulled up a fresh Word document on which to take notes, surveyed Skype—simply for the purpose of seeing who I could complain to about my horrendous week—and finally opened Safari to check my Facebook to see what had happened in the 20 minutes since I left Shapiro Campus Center after a full night of being there.

At first, I saw nothing special.

I scrolled through new friendship notifications, announcements that Hannah was now in a domestic partnership with Emma and that Sarah and Jeff were TOTALLY over (it looked messy).

I set my status to something melancholy and continued to surf through the sea of song lyric statuses and birthday wishes, when suddenly I saw something that made my stomach turn.

A rabbi that I had met during a stay in Israel posted a status that read as follows: “As many have heard, there was a bomb placed next to a telephone pole in Jerusalem which injured 25 people (I heard the explosion at the synagogue).”

These simple two sentences caused me to break into a cold sweat, turning a bad mood into a frantic one.

With more than a dozen friends studying in Israel and seven or eight in Jerusalem—just blocks away from the central bus station that played host to this bombing—to say that I was panicked when I read this news is an understatement.

Within 15 seconds, I had scoured Google News for any scrap of information about the incident.

I learned quickly that there had been one fatality and 25-or-so injuries from the bombing.

Instantly, my heart began to race.

What if one of my friends had been a victim of the bombing, one of the 25 (or maybe even worse).

I began to compulsively check Facebook and make calls to make sure that everyone was safe.

Several hours later, once I had heard from everyone that I know, and was assured of their safety, I sat down in the library with a large cup of tea and let myself relax for the first time in several hours. In this moment, I had a realization.

I had been focusing so intensely on my life here at Brandeis, I had forgotten that there was a larger world outside of Waltham.

While Brandeis looks, feels and smells very much like the real world, it is fundamentally different and it is important to keep that in mind.

Wednesday was hell for me, but it might have been the most important realization at Brandeis so far.

I now understand that even on my worst day here at Brandeis, my life is still pretty darn good.

I gained a totally new and necessary perspective.

It is so easy to get caught up in—what my anthropology course refers to as—the imponderabilia of actual life.

We obsess about grades, friends, sex, work relationships and what Sherman is serving for lunch.

We allow ourselves to become immersed in all of the stresses that come with everyday life here and don’t realize that life exists beyond the Brandeis bubble.