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Look Ahead
Sara Courtney

Adam Elayan ’24 is an aspiring journalist, leader of the Big Blue Sports Network, and a regular contributor to The Flex. His popular column, often focusing on music, can be enjoyed here and here. This time, he shares a new Op-Ed, Look Ahead, and captures a moment in time, as only he can.


The winter of freshman year was unusually snowy. At 15, I was not yet too old or too cool to go sledding, so I spent my time between remote classes on the hill behind my house. In my memories, the sledding is a blur. What I recall most vividly is the path to the summit—the frozen stream, the saplings on either side, and the stems of bushes that hurt so badly to run into. My house was just a few hundred feet away, where The Office played every evening in the family room and my sister anxiously awaited college decisions. The hill was an alien world: comfortably silent, expansive beyond contemplation, and overlooking a sports complex fenced in with barbed wire. It was my escape from the doldrums of 2020 when all the other ones wore out. 

The following winter was different. Classrooms replaced computer screens. Company replaced solitude. The snow was lighter and less frequent. Even so, I was out there with my sled the first time the hill was white again. The second I stepped onto the old path, I knew it wouldn’t be the same. The sapling forest I’d walked through at eye level had become overgrown, and the old, inviting path had become a thorny nuisance. The once-annoying bush stems now formed a barrier, covering the hill to the point of unsledability. Unironically, I was shocked. This place had been so separate from the real world the year before—how could it possibly follow the same laws now? It was supposed to be waiting for me, the path cleared and groomed, the hill flushed with powder and ready to be carved up. Instead, three inches of ice were buried by what may as well have been a bed of nails. I didn’t take out my sled for the rest of the winter, refusing to participate in the cruel world of change and brevity.

Looking back, I should have known it was over after that first winter. I can’t count how often I walked by the young trees and stepped over the burgeoning brush, concerned only with the moment’s silence and whatever frivolous thoughts were in my head. Whether it was arrogance or ignorance, I thought I would be able to spend my winters the same way until I outgrew the essentially childish game I was playing. I never imagined it would outgrow me.

When something is all-consuming, like sledding for a cooped-up freshman, it is easy to be blind to the things that might undo it. We get so focused on the top of the hill, whose slope is glinting in the afternoon sun, that we don’t realize we may never be able to get there again because a forest is growing at our feet. Someday, I’ll find a new place to take my sled. The path, unburdened by growth, will be wide, the sun bright, and the hill brilliant. Sled in tow, I’ll take in every refreshing inhale of cold air and exalt in every successful descent. This time, when the snow begins to thaw, I’ll know it’s goodbye forever. I will have seen the trees on my way up.




To contact the author: Adam Elayan '24