Celebrate the Stillness Wednesday, December 18, 2019, at 3:45 p.m.

Dear campus community —

Congratulations on an outstanding 2019! You should all be very proud, as I am, of the unprecedented progress and accomplishments you helped create this year at Jacksonville University. 

As we approach the holidays, we are once again looking forward to spending time with family and friends and taking a much-needed break. Last year at this time, I shared with you that my family chose to take a 24-hour “pause” on all of our screens. No social media. No streaming. No texting. Only face-to-face interaction for a full day. Some of you joined in that challenge. For many, it was a revelation. For us, it was deeply refreshing and helped set our intention for the new year. This year, I invite you to take advantage of this change of pace in a more meaningful way. The holidays offer a welcome pause -- a rare opportunity to create some space in our lives. Don’t just set down your phone. Embrace the breathing room. Celebrate the stillness, the time to think. 

Years ago, before apps and memes and platforms filled every possible moment of our day, we had quiet moments to form our ambitions and imagine our future. We had time to absorb the wisdom in a good book and let it take root to better ourselves. We were our own influencers. When every single minute of “downtime” is now filled by staring at a screen and scrolling furiously through information, we have lost what a blessing the calm can be.  

This holiday season, let’s give ourselves time to think, to breathe intellectually and mentally sort through our hopes for the new year. I urge you to resist the temptation to fill those potentially restful moments with the constant consumption of whatever photo, video or text too easily demands your attention. Instead let’s spend that time exploring ideas that have collected dust in the far corners of our minds. Return to ambitious plans that fell dormant. Dissect a differing opinion. Unpack a complex concept. We’re robbing ourselves if we don’t.

How you choose to spend those moments is entirely up to you, of course, but here are just a couple suggestions that have enriched my own life lately. Recently, I had the pleasure of reading two fascinating books that offer thought-provoking perspectives: Range by David Epstein, and iGen by Jean M. Twenge. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did. 

Here’s wishing you a holiday season filled with plenty of time to think, relax, and recharge. 

With warmest thanks for your outstanding work,

Tim Cost
Jacksonville University
Class of 1981