"this is not a eulogy mourning the death of, but a love letter making promises to time"Anna Feest

Time always seems to have a different meaning in Cambridge. It moves in a different way – the start and end of each term seem so far apart, but the eight weeks in between seem so brief. The events of a week would be enough to fill a month, and yet we reach the end of the month and wonder what our time has been spent on. Hours spent in lecture halls drag on, but hours spent with friends fly past; time feels like a clock running out of battery, lurching forwards at times but becoming stuck at others.

Love Letters to Cambridge

These are tough and uncertain times for us all, and a lot of us are left with little closure. Varsity are launching this series to give a platform to students reflecting on the parts of Cambridge they'll miss the most, and to gain some closure through writing. Just email our Features team with a 150-word pitch with your idea!

It’s only now that we are finding time to reflect, because time in Cambridge is also precious. It’s precious in that it is valuable – a commodity. We all crave spare time, constantly feeling that we cannot afford to waste even seconds on one thing. There’s always the next essay, the next event, the next thing which must be seen to and time cannot be spent ‘unnecessarily’ on the last. It’s a commodity in that we balance out and budget where, how and with who we will spend our time. A minute slowed down and enjoyed is wasted, like a pound coin dropped down the drain.

Now, though, we have more time than we ever thought we could, yet, at the same time, we have been robbed of it. Yes, there is still work and exams to be done, but we have still been forced out of the Cambridge bubble in which time moves differently. For everyone, this is going to take some adjusting to, not least because it happened so suddenly and unexpectedly, as we try to work out how to fit in the new things we now have to do into the space of the things we no longer can do. Time is almost a comfort blanket, a routine, a set measure in which to perform a certain activity. We no longer have this blanket.

"The world may feel pretty bleak right now, but we have a bit of time to enjoy what beauty it has left..."Anna Feest

But outside of the intense time scale of the Cambridge term, maybe we can use this positively – to slow down, to stop, to consider things for a while before we move on. In these ‘strange and uncertain times’ – a phrase which will forever define our generation – having a moment to make decisions with certainty is perhaps a gift. Not a gift that anyone would have wanted to take in these circumstances, of course, but then we are all making the most of what we’ve got. The world may feel pretty bleak right now, but we have a bit of time to enjoy what beauty it has left, in whatever form that may take – more time with family, a (socially distanced) walk in the spring, even the personal beauty of time alone.

Time is still precious, which being out of Cambridge has not only not changed but proven. The holidays were always approaching, but many of us have left Cambridge unexpectedly. What we had all expected was more time next term, more time in which so many things could have happened, would have happened, should have happened. The last few weeks and the next few months are going to change us all (and the society we live in) in multiple ways.


Mountain View

A love letter to Jesus College

One of these ways should be our attitude to time: to value it, to make the most of it, because you never know when it could be taken away from you. ‘Now or never’ is not quite right, because that ‘never’ may not come; but ‘now’ is definitely here and it may be all we have.

This article could, in many ways, be a eulogy to time, not a love letter – especially for those who expected to have the next term to say goodbye. But then the time spent mourning those eight weeks would be wasted, because they’re lost, as are the past eight weeks which we claim would have been spent differently had we known what was coming. 

So this is not a eulogy mourning the death of, but a love letter making promises to time – to enjoy it, to use it, to not forget how precious it really is.

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