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Letter from the Editor

Letter from the Editor 04.05.2022

On tug–of–war, toxic habits, and lessons from geometry class

Photo: Beatrice Forman

I think my younger self would be disappointed in me today. 

Before you pull out the tissues and cry for my past self, allow me to provide a qualifier: I don’t mean that I’d be disappointed in my accomplishments. If anything, I’m proud of what I’ve done—but not what I’ve sacrificed to get there.

I’ve spent so much time pushing myself toward my aspirations that I’ve forgotten to care about my well–being. The struggle between my health and my resume feels like a perpetually one–sided game of tug–of–war, where the only thing powerful enough to conclude it is my body literally shutting down.

If I sleep too little, dozing off in class ensures that I eventually catch up on my rest. If I’m hungover, I wait out the worst of it and power through the rest with caffeine and sheer determination. 

But COVID–19 isn’t something you can ignore and continue going about your life with, as much as I might wish I could. If I had all the same symptoms I have now but the disease itself wasn’t contagious, I’d roll myself out of bed—fever and all—and make my way to the Stroffice for production night. But no amount of determination can make me less infectious to other people, so I stay home, finally forced to rest.

As much as I want the lesson from this to be that I should take care of myself, it isn’t. That’s so obvious of a solution that it’s actually an impossible one—a mere platitude I tell myself to feel better about my toxic habits.

The real lesson lies in high school math class. Instead of being linear, self–care should be asymptotic—something I always strive to get closer to, even if I never quite reach it. I may never repair my own work–life imbalance, but it doesn’t mean I shouldn’t try.

In fact, this week’s issue is full of asymptotes. Our feature gives a historical perspective to the calming nature of The Woodlands Cemetery and Jane Austen, asking just how close we can get to recreating the past when we can’t travel back to it. Our piece on the anatomy of a perfect song attempts to disentangle the complexities of music and how songwriters try to recreate a feeling without duplicating the notes. Finally, our article about unionization at the 34th and Walnut Starbucks shows the difficulties of striving for progress—and the importance of recognizing the path there.


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