No, not the heat.

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It shadowed the grimaces we wore while lugging bin after bin into our rooms, the grins and hugs we shared uniting or reuniting with friends, and the mild surprise felt when seeing people we forgot existed over the summer. It compels our feet to find the right classroom. It accompanies every freshman as they attempt to discover how this whole college thing works (and why they might enjoy it).

Do you feel it? It is a potential energy, a pendulum at the top of its swing, a spring compressed. Thousands of springs await release — thousands of minds wait, patiently or not, to create. We want to spill words on pages, sculpt music from air and build what was only imagined. We want to bend and twist others’ brainwaves, expose their assumptions and reluctantly allow them to return the favor. We want to offer evening libations to the gods of a good time.

Unfettered optimism lives here, in the beginning of the year. We resolve to minimize stress by sleeping well and working effectively. We figure those resolutions will fade with time. And they will. Perpetual energy does not exist. The pendulum slows. Sleep schedules will drift and shrink, caffeine will be abused, something will absolutely blindside you.

By now (when you read this) it will have begun, maybe, ever so slightly. Because as soon as the work hits, it doesn’t meet our expectations, however vague. Reality can’t match even a mundane fantasy.

I think it is worth examining and thoroughly reflecting upon this feeling when it is strong, this excitement or joy or enthusiasm, because then you will remember it. And remembering why you’re here, feeling why you’re here, is a fabulous antidote for a bad week when it inevitably plows you over.