May 012011
Authors: Johnathan Kastner

I know this time of year can be stressful. Teachers hint that you should start studying, and the worry builds up like a weight trying to crush you and destroy all hope and happiness forever in overwhelming bleakness.

But cheer up! There’s loads of happy things to think about that aren’t related to finals. So kick back, relax for a spell —–– ignore all those looming deadlines, while I mention happy, distracting things. Things that are not final exams.

For example, did you know that according to the Center for Disease Control, having a pet can decrease your blood pressure and keep you from suffering from loneliness? Snuggly kittens aren’t just adorable –– they’re good for you. And just think of how much free time you’ll have to snuggle all the kittens you want after you’re done with finals week, which is less than seven days away.

Snuggling kittens sure is wonderful, but do you know what else is wonderful? Chocolate or other candies –– if you were born without the gland that lets you love chocolate (the soul). Did you know that dark chocolate contains healthy antioxidants? They also contain something called flavonoids, which is probably Latin for, “too delicious to have a word for it in English.”

Yes, chocolate sure is amazing and it does have a number of interesting chemical properties. It might be interesting to examine that chemistry and study what makes it work. But that’s an exam we’ll take another time –– there’s always time to study later, after all.

It will be even easier to study chemistry thanks to the amazing advances in computer power, which leads to even more fun and distracting facts that should help alleviate the creeping chill of finals breathing directly on your neck. Did you know that the number of transistors on a computer chip doubles every two years? This is called Moore’s law, and it’s the reason your Smartphone is faster than anything publically available 30 years ago.

It truly is an amazing time to be alive. When I was young, we had floppy discs that could barely hold a single mp3. Now in your pocket or quite nearby is enough storage space to hold every single one of Mozart’s surviving songs. We used to actually lose music –– there are an uncounted number of songs that have no surviving written copies. Nowadays, barring the collapse of civilization, no music will ever be lost again.

And even though finals may feel like civilization is collapsing around you and all is falling into ruin, keep in mind that it’s not that bad. It’s only a few hours of grueling exams on which your future rests.

It’s also important to note that these aren’t the only finals, so it’s not the be-all, end-all. There will be finals next semester, of course, for those not graduating. And of course workplace reviews for those of you getting jobs. Not to mention the grueling test of finding a job itself. And the tests life throws at you, heedless of these other obligations, in health and relationships and faith.

But the infinite horde of tests isn’t the point. Even passing them isn’t the point. Most tests allow a second chance, or other, equally worthwhile chances. And think of how many tests you’ve already been through –– what’s one more final to that?
Along the way, with all the tests, are pets, candy and the amazing times in which we live. You are likely within 200 feet of as much freshwater as you could want as you read this. You’re unlikely to starve. And, what’s more, you’ve passed all the other tests to get where you are right now. What’s one more little test to all that?

Johnathan Kastner is in his second year of his second bachelor degree, majoring in computer science. His column appears Mondays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to

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