Across campus the past few days, there has seemed to be an air of lethargy growing among the student body. It makes sense. The temperature is dropping, the sun is setting sooner, and the days of Sperry-sporting students tanning on Old Campus are fleeting. Oh yeah, it’s also midterm season. There is no shortage of reasons for feeling tired, sad or just worn out right now. But if the doldrums of midterms have you feeling down in the dumps, then I suggest you take a study break, and turn on the news.
Yes, the news. It seems as though the major networks have chosen to take a break from their midterm (election) season as well, and the story that has captured their attention is just the shot of energy and perspective we need.
In case you haven’t heard about it already, 76 days ago, on Aug. 5, the San Jose copper and gold mine in Chile collapsed, trapping 33 miners under a half mile of rock. For over two months, a global team of rescue workers labored around the clock to save their lives. The initial forecasts for the miners’ survival were bleak. Seventeen days after the initial collapse, however, the rescuers made contact with the miners. From then until last week, they fought night and day to exhume these men from the depths of the Earth.
In what is being touted as one of the great engineering achievements of our time, the rescuers fashioned a capsule capable of lifting the miners to the surface. Never before had rescuers pried living miners from so deep a cave-in. For 70 days, the men waited in the dark, damp and desolate depths of the ground, wondering when or if they were ever going to see the light of day — or their loved ones — again.
But last Tuesday at midnight, a small capsule arose from the ground, emblazoned with the Chilean flag, carrying with it a smiling, waving man: the maiden miner, Florencio Avalos. Avalos exited the capsule to find his wife and son standing in wait, tears of joy running down all of their faces. He leapt into their arms in a long-overdue reunion.
In the news clips, a similar scene plays out 32 more times, and each time, it is an empowering moment. Indescribable happiness: as I watch, that’s all I can imagine that these miners are feeling. It’s like seeing men being granted a second chance at life, one by one. Each time, the scene sends my heart racing. Watching it makes you want to stand up and cheer. The effect is similar to watching the end of an uplifting movie — except the movie has 33 unique endings, all equally powerful and real. The clips are sure to brighten your day, and moreover, it should help remind us what matters most.
I don’t know what those men thought about down there in the cavernous depths of the San Jose mine. I don’t know what can keep one’s mind occupied for 70 days, when, at any second, your life might end underneath tons of dripping rock. But I know this much: they weren’t fretting over their cognitive science midterm. This time of year is tough to get through. Midterms conjure blood-curdling questions of how a grade will affect our happiness, our career prospects and our parents. But, at the same time, I know that at the end of the day, midterms are just a series of temporal tests. Everybody here has a lot more to be thankful for than a healthy GPA.
Joel Sircus is a freshman in Trumbull College.