Letter to the Reader: The Ouroboros of Time

Hey Tembusu! By the time this comes to publication, you would likely have ended one festive period and are eagerly looking forward to another. For most of us, things remain the same, but somehow not. Barring one or two absences and arrivals, the people close to us remain largely the same. They look the same too, perhaps just a bit more wrinkly. Time is cyclical, but somehow valiantly advances. The Ouroboros bites its tail and refuses to let go.

Returning to Tembusu feels largely the same. The move-in process is stripped of its freshness, but replaced with a comforting familiarity. Time is once again demarcated by the monotonous cycle of tutorials, lectures, spontaneous meetings and planned birthday celebrations. Things feel the same, but we’re all a bit more worn and frayed. We start to wonder why we’re doing some things, why at times it seems so futile. If it hasn’t worked the first time, nor all the times before and after, why press on?

We don’t have an answer to these existential questions. Sometimes we do things because we are obligated to. Sometimes we embark on futile tasks on the off-chance that something good may come out of it that would make things worthwhile. To draw upon narrative cliches, sometimes the treasures we gain are the friends we make along the way. That being said, much of the ouroboros represents cycles, it also represents renewals, both of identity and meaning. With a little bit of cognizance we could take this repetition as a chance to reassess and reinvent ourselves.

College activities will still (hopefully) be held. The same house, sports, arts, and Interest Group activities continue to engage and enthrall us. But those involved are slightly different each time. What we can do is to take note of these little differences. For the Inter College Games for instance, the same sports with the same rules will be played by the same teams. But within these frameworks the opportunity for variation is infinite. We can observe them and marvel.

Work will continue to weigh upon us. Reports still have to be submitted, lectures attended, and exams prepared for. If our commitments are settled, little can be done about this. However, what we can do is look back at how each thing we do improves us in small, barely-conceivable ways that at the end of it all amounts to a marked jump in what we are capable of.

Gatherings will still happen, hopefully with larger capacities each time. Those around us will largely remain the same, but the ebb and flow of relationships remain something to be excited by. Perhaps later in the semester, these gatherings will be marked by an increasing sense of melancholy. Countdowns will have begun, and whether or not you’ll be returning in August, Semester 2 indubitably marks the end of a Tembusu College as we know it. Though our institutions and much of our Staff remain, the cycle renews itself with a new batch of Tembusians. Similar perhaps, but also markedly different.

As your trusted students’ journal, we will do our best to document these changes and constants. However much we aim to avoid it, the spirit of our writings will inevitably carry the spirit of a College in flux, holding its breath either for a return to normalcy or the creation of new modes of living, learning and laughing. We hope that the articles this semester help you situate yourself a little better, and find some meaning amidst the drift. In the event that things continue as they are, we hope that future batches find comfort, and within the essence of your writings the foundations to recreate new meanings and identities.

Whichever way the semester pans out, we hope to see you at the end of it as new people, but very still much the same.

Love, your Editors-in-Chief

Feature Image from Nick Fewings from Unsplash. Header Image from Mitchell Hollander from Unsplash.