Mills: The end of this path. A farewell


Kadin Mills, Opinion Editor

The snow is melting now, and the footprints are beginning to fade. The snow crusts over and the few prints that remain become ice for one last moon, as if to say, “we are always here.”

Every day, three times a day, my dog Rita and I walk slowly through our neighborhood. She is nearly 13 years old, though being a stubborn pit bull, she tries not to show her age. Rita sniffs and I let her take me where she wants to go — where she wants to sniff.

As the snow melts and returns, I’ve begun to take note of my surroundings again. Some days, I walk aimlessly through grass, following Rita’s nose as I ponder where it is she might be taking me. On other days, I see her tracking through the snow, following the footprints of wild animals and other dogs. Inevitably, she will lead me to a patch of yellow snow. Nice.

It’s so fascinating to me how much of the world we can’t see at any given time: how many trails there are to be followed. Footprints weave through the snow like stories around yesterday’s snowpeople, tomorrow’s fights and today’s snow angels. Long tracks from bunnies streak through the snow — they pause with a twitch of the nose. They jump past the trailing little feet of a skunk. Raccoon hands blot a path to a garbage can, slinking by carefully.

The winter is a reminder of our histories on the land. It is a time in which we tell our stories and retrace the trails of our more-than-human relatives, the snowshoe trails of our ancestors — a manifestation of past events, they guide us through the present.

We each leave our footprint in the snow, and while our impression may not last forever, it is intrinsically intertwined with every other footprint which crosses our trails. As this winter comes to an end, I reflect on the footprints I have left behind me.

As a columnist, I swore I would never become an editor for The Daily Northwestern. I told myself I valued my time too much to commit it all to the newspaper. But when I was asked to fill a vacancy, I decided I would. I walked confidently through the snow and into a blizzard — I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

The people pleaser in me has struggled. Every rejected story has the potential to upset someone but for every opinion published, there are thousands of other perspectives to be heard. I have felt pressured to make everyone happy, but I have had to learn it’s just not possible.

Instead, I have focused on learning from my mistakes and the incredibly difficult decisions I shouldn’t have had to make at this stage in my career.

Working for the opinion desk can be demoralizing, but I have loved reading the work written by the talented people in this community. I have read and edited dozens of articles from dozens of people, each voice unique and special. The privilege to work with each is something for which I am incredibly grateful, and I would do it all again.

Except I won’t. I am not sure which direction my path will go, but my path as opinion editor ends here. I am happy to finally get to move the mountain I’ve buried myself in and I anticipate the day I might carry on from this adventure.

Our trails cross and recross in unexpected ways. Soon, we will all be gone from here, and we will find ourselves in a new forest with new snow and new directions to walk in.

In the meantime, I am ready to map a new story onto the world.

Kadin Mills is a Medill junior. He can be contacted at [email protected]. If you would like to respond publicly to this op-ed, send a Letter to the Editor to [email protected]. The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of all staff members of The Daily Northwestern.