Summer is almost here. The whole campus holds its breath in anticipation for finals to be over, for summer to begin and for life to commence. Professors assign so many papers. Students spend all night trying to undo the damage of procrastination. Everywhere I turn, someone says, “I can’t wait for finals to be over.”

The weeks leading up to finals contain much stress, weariness and unmet desires, but they don’t have to kill our happiness. In fact, these weeks hold much joy if only we look for the moments, pause to enjoy them and live in response to them.

It is when we forget about the moments that we forget to live.

But how do we enjoy these moments?

We look for them.

I took a walk in the spring weather today to get rid of a caffeine headache (yes, I did a scary thing and skipped coffee this morning). But instead of thinking of all of the papers that I still needed to write, I chose to notice things.

I closed my eyes to hear the sound of the wind as it whispered to my ears. I breathed the smell of warm gravel and mowed grass. I lingered my sight on the shadows of birds as they flew by.

In order to find the moments, we must first look for them. We must clear our busy minds to find something bigger than finals, even if that something takes a small shape, like a drive home, a conversation or a midnight laughter-fest.

But what if our moments look like bending over a computer, trying to study for a test that we feel sure we will fail? Is there beauty in that moment as well?

Yes.

For when we learn to appreciate work, the working moments hold meaning, as well.

Work isn’t bad. Studying isn’t ugly, nor is going to class or working at a job. It's when we pass these moments by as distractions from our real life that we label them as insignificant, and therefore that's what they become.

In what other time will we have the chance to devote so much of our time to learning, studying and growing? These moments that we spend learning how to think and work will impact us for the rest of our lives. Do we want to half-live these moments, or will we work at them with all of what we have?

Once we look for the moments and appreciate even the hard ones, then we can live in them.

We can live not just in hopes for tomorrow, but in satisfaction of today.

We can pay attention to the world around us and interact with it in meaningful ways.

We can laugh, work, breathe, learn and take the curves of life with courage.

Yes, summer is almost here, but freedom and fun don’t wait for summer. They wait for us to savor the moments, appreciate work and live in today.

Don’t let the last few weeks of this semester pass you by. Live.