The Man Behind the Library

by Pete Janny, Sports Editor

Some may only recognize him as a man who works in the library. But to me and so many others, his presence was a blessing for all of us in pursuit of our various academic goals.

The 2021-2022 academic year marks my senior year, and my first year without the heroic man in the library.

For that reason, the start of this new school year is equal parts refreshing and bittersweet.

Indeed, a sense of new life and new beginnings spring forth from every corridor on campus. We are finally together again on campus; a moment we’ve been waiting forever since society shut down on that fateful day in March 2020. As a tight-knit community, our possibilities are limitless and our shared presence on campus will guide us to a better future. The opportunity to learn is tugging at our hearts and minds once again now that we can attend in-person classes.

This reality is worthy of celebration and renewed optimism.

In the same breath, it’s easy to reminisce on the regularities of life before the pandemic. Realistically, not everything will be the same now as it was before. Certain memories may be stuck in the past while some past relationships may never see broad daylight ever again. As we reach the metaphorical fork in the road, we can either lament this passage of time, or instead use the lessons learned to mold a better future for ourselves and others.

What made the late nights in the library much more tolerable was having a friend by my side through it all. I know working the night shifts was never a preference for him, but he never complained or acted differently. His consistency taught me the importance of repetition as well as the value of hard work. Others saw the same goodness in him just as I saw my first semester freshman year.

We talked about many things. About our shared love of the game of basketball. Our faith. Our highs and lows and our goals for the future. But what always struck me was the humility and care he showed toward me, making me seem like the most important priority to him when I was around him. I knew he was far too generous in his time with me—and the unceasing credit he gave me— but that is who he is: a man for others.

We talked about his future away from the library. I could sense the obvious disappointment in him about not returning, but he wanted no part of excuses or sympathy. He viewed it as a new opportunity in life despite the challenges and adversity that comes with it. It reminded me that life is not always fair and it’s up to us to adapt and move forward. The man in the library knows that life lesson better than any- one I ever met.

A college career is analogous to the lifespan of a person. There are different chapters that make up the overall journey. It’s a miscellaneous bag of highs and lows, people and places, and peers and professionals.

For me, those late nights in the library epitomize the crazy journey. I think I speak for many when saying I am grateful for not having to spend those moments alone.

Now more than ever we should make a conscious effort to support each other. Because in the end, we are always better together.

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