At any given time, my desk is cluttered with all sorts of random publication paraphernalia. In fact, as I write this first column of the year, I am surrounded by three old Bison issues, no less than seven sticky-notes, a used napkin and a Diet Coke can.
I live a life of glamour, obviously.
Sitting near my keyboard is a little rock, slightly larger than a quarter. An insignificant, murky brown color, it almost blends into the surface it sits upon. Polished to a smooth gleam, the words “To Dream!” are engraved onto its surface.
It is my favorite object in the office.
The rock was a graduation gift from my high school theatre teacher and debate coach: Ms. Coppedge, or “Copp” for short. Given by one of the most influential people during my high school years, this rock meant the world to me three years ago, and it means even more now.
I’m sure Copp didn’t know exactly what she was encouraging me to dream about when she gave me this gift. I seriously doubt she ever expected me to work as an editor. Upon graduating from a high school that didn’t even have a newspaper, journalism was the furthest thing from my mind, but that’s not really the point.
Copp didn’t know what I would do after I left home; I didn’t either. She did, however, believe I could do something. She left it up to me to decide exactly what that something was.
I don’t deserve people like Copp. I don’t deserve people like Mrs. Dorman, Jim Miller and Katie Ramirez — people who pushed me in the water headfirst, ready to offer a saving hand if I needed it, but always confident I would figure out how to get my head above water before completely drowning.
Thanks to these and so many others, I finally feel confident in my ability to tread water consistently. I feel content bobbing along with the waves that come. They may engulf for brief periods of time, but I’m thankful for the support that has provided me the ability to get back to the surface.
The thing is, I think we’re called to do more than tread water.
If we were all content to just keep our heads above water, things would get stagnant pretty quickly. After all, one who treads water just stays in the same place, not doing much other than avoiding drowning. At times, that is a triumph. But it can’t be our permanent state.
As scary as it may seem, I’m challenging us all to do more than just tread water. Staying still may feel safer, but floating isn’t going to get you any closer to shore.
You have to start swimming.
This year, I hope The Bison can serve a community that is learning to swim. As we, the staff, take a deep breath and begin venturing forward into unchartered waters, I ask that you, the Harding community, come with us. I ask that you bear with us during the times we will inevitably make mistakes. I ask that you come to me if you ever feel we have settled back into the familiarity of treading water.
I truly believe we’ll all make faster progress if we traverse the waters together, especially the rough ones. There will be waves, and there will be storms, but I’m confident we have something more compelling calling us toward shore — together.
So, here’s to the ones who encourage us to dream of shore. Here’s to the ones who learned to tread water before us and the ones who are achieving incredible feats just by staying afloat right now. Here’s to the Harding community and the people like you who want the best for it.
Here’s to a year of working together. Here’s to a year of learning to swim.