Summit Fever

The weekend dangles before me each week like some myth of finitude. Get to Friday, and I’m clear. Mondays I dread. Tuesday, I’m wishing it were Thursday. Wednesday, I try to celebrate being half-way through. Thursday, I’m impatient. Friday promises respite, some fun, a change of pace. And there’s nothing wrong with looking forward to it. The weekend is worth at least most of its hype.

My concern is that in my summit fever for the weekend, I forget to enjoy the view from the switchbacks on the mountain that is Monday through Thursday. I get trapped in this mindset, because the weekend promise of finitude is an empty one. As much as the weekend is a finish line, it is also a precursor to another week: the dread, the distraction, the impatience, all over again. What’s more, weekends here can be as, if not more, stressful than the work week. Problem sets and social anxiety don’t magically disappear come Friday. In most cases, I feel most stressed-out on Sunday afternoon when my homework reaches its shrill climax. I feel like I’m wasting time in anticipation of something better when I could be just, well, living with the best for the present moment. I know that living in the moment has become a cliche: focus on the journey, not the destination, etc. Still, there is something to be said for accepting the present moment for what it is and finding as much joy and excitement in the present Wednesday as in the future promise of Saturday.

I do a lot of yoga, and one of the recurring themes in my practice is trying to find the sweetness in the harder poses instead of grimacing through them and looking forward to Savasana. The work of yoga isn’t the physical strain of the practice. If you want toned muscles, hit the weight room. The work is in staying present and breathing smoothly throughout the practice. You don’t have to be in downward dog to do this kind of work. You can do it in lecture, on your bike, in your attitude toward the week, even your attitude toward your four years here. As far as I’ve heard from my friends who have graduated, the real world is no less a rat race than college life. It could be useful to find a way to make it feel like less of a scramble.

Let me re-emphasize, adopting this attitude is work. It’s not easy to find the sweetness in academic sprints. Maybe even harder is finding excitement in a routine that can border on drudgery. The pervasive rhythm on campus — a five-day slog followed by a two-day binge — is wearing on me. Alternating between boredom and frenzy gets old. Change your rhythms. Take your work outside. Treat yourself to a cup of coffee with breakfast. Notice the season (anyone else getting really early spring fever?), the quality of the light, the beauty of campus. And maybe, just maybe, you can still look forward to Fridays but also enjoy Tuesdays.

Amused? Confused? Outraged? Share your thoughts with Renée at rdonovan@stanford.edu. 

About Renee Donovan

Renee was born and raised in San Francisco and has a serious love affair with the city. Last year she took a leave of absence to pursue a career in ballet and modern dance at Tisch School of the Arts in New York. She is glad to be back at Stanford, and especially glad to be back in California. She is an avid backpacker, Faulkner enthusiast, fair-to-middling guitarist, and wholehearted aviation nerd. She hopes to bring an amusing and provocative voice to the Daily in her opinion column, and urges the Stanford community to offer her their suggestions, questions, and criticism to keep the dialogue going on campus.
  • Adam Johnson

    Great piece Renee!

    “The pervasive rhythm on campus — a five-day slog followed by a two-day binge — is wearing on me.”

    It’s wearing on me, too. Especially if I can’t sleep in on weekends. Then it becomes a continuous slog. So I’m trying like you mention to introduce some peace into the week. We’ll see how it goes.