By Thomas Infante
This past year has without a doubt been the busiest time of my life. Leading the production of a newspaper, with the support of an amazing, award-winning staff, has presented dozens of conflicts and situations that I never could have predicted. Though the time has flown by, it has been a remarkable experience that has taught me volumes about life and reminded me that wisdom can be found in the most unlikely places.
“Sometimes I go about in pity for myself, and all the while, a great wind carries me across the sky.”
This is a saying attributed to the Ojibwe Native American tribe. It is also a quotation that has ceased to leave my mind since the first time I heard it.
I’ll be honest — I don’t know anything about the origin of the saying, or about the Ojibwe, other than that they lived around what is now southeastern Canada.
I heard this phrase from an episode of “The Sopranos.” To give some relatively spoiler-free context, mafia boss Tony Soprano is recovering in the hospital after a near fatal injury, and finds that quote pinned to the wall of his room.
At first, Tony thinks it’s bullshit, and I know people who have expressed a similar opinion. One of my roommates said it sounded “depressing,” like someone was just getting miserably pushed through their existence, but I think he missed the point.
Despite our constant efforts toward the contrary, life can be lousy sometimes. Whether due to things totally out of our control, repercussions from our own mistakes or just plain old bad luck, many of us do indeed go about in pity for ourselves.
Our student’s body’s rate of depression matches the national average for college students at nearly 39 percent, and the rate of anxiety is even higher, at 56 percent. Although it’s not the most fun or common topic of conversation, it’s safe to say that there is no shortage of negative feelings on the average college campus.
That’s where the “great wind” part comes in. I would be lying if I said I haven’t felt depressed once in a while during my time at the College, but the biggest lie that I ever tried to convince myself of — and one that I have found to be unexpectedly common — is that I am alone in dealing with my problems.
Simply put, there is no one who is completely unloved. Even some of the worst people in history still had friends and companions who cared about and supported them. We all have friends, family, coworkers and others who have nothing but support to offer when we need it. It could be your real family, an organization like The Signal in my case, your community or the world at large, but we’re all part of something bigger than us.
Perspective is a wonderful thing, and it can be tough in the midst of misfortune to recognize and acknowledge the multitude of ways in which the people we care about support us. Sometimes while ranting to friends at length about my own problems, I realize that I’m fortunate just to have people that care enough to listen.
Tony eventually came to admire the quotation, and would often repeat it in moments when he wanted to sound profound, but I don’t think he ever really got it either. He did peyote in Las Vegas with his nephew’s mistress and thought he got it, but he was never able to appreciate the true source of the wind carrying him. He continued to neglect his wife, and betrays his close friends for petty and selfish reasons.
Though I’ll rarely say it out loud, I love my friends and my family very much. I always try my best to be a good friend and person, but they are often much kinder and more generous toward me than I am to them.
So thank you, to all the people who have helped me be a good friend, editor and leader. It’s because of you all that I know whenever I’m in doubt, all I have to do is lean back and let the wind carry me.