A College Student in 2020

Most nights I dream about my artist life. Something always goes wrong in those dreams, either the light did not turn on stage, my teammates were late, or I missed my cue. Last night my artist life came back in the dream. This time I was ready for my cue, but my teammates decided to improvise without my consent. So, I was confused. I struggled to put on a dress for that particular scene. My teammates were calling my name while my left arm stuck in the dress. It was frustrating. I woke up feeling very tired.

Every day in my awaken life, I sit in front of my laptop for hours, attending all the zoom classes, reading, and writing essays. Most days I feel very drained by the end of the day. It is a zoom fatigue, or am I just tired of trying to pretend that things will get better. This week, in the Study of Buddhism class, we discussed about “Happiness.” The main topic of the discussion was to understand the assigned readings of “Inner Science.” What exactly is inner science? This question strikes me. I learned that there is no simple answer to the question. In Buddhism, one needs to examine one’s mind of being in the world, connecting from within the inner self to the outside world. In contrast, the Western science seems to focus more on the outside world that influences on one’s mind.

A zoom classmate asked “How can one find true happiness in a capitalist system? How can one have the time to practice mindfulness while constantly worrying about paying rent and food while trying to get a college degree amid a world pandemic, and facing social unrest while having a President who is trying to destroy democracy?.” Her questions remind me of something Marx said of how you could only feel fulfilled as a human and thus happy when you were in charge of your own production and free to express your creativity in a physical world, and that capitalism takes that away from us. I am not a fan of Marxism. But I personally think that self-reflection of happiness requires actual time and energy. It is hard to sit and think about your place in the world, build love for your family and friends and become actually mindful when you have to work two jobs to pay rent and food (not in my case, but most American students do). That is the trouble about education. The more you are educated, the more problems you see, especially in our today’s world and particularly in the U.S. So, to my Americans friends, your vote for 2020 election matters. The American democracy is at harm and we need to be well prepared for the outcome.

(Below are some of my pictures from Mountain Day, a tradition at Smith College when the President rings the bell, all classes are cancelled so that everyone can enjoy a day off in nature.)

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