My immense pleasure at the quality of my time this long weekend prompted me to reflect on the ideas behind taking a break. We all seem to regard Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays as times for exercising a way of living life different from our normal existence. The bliss of a three-day weekend, or any weekend really, comes from what feels like endless chances for play. Countless opportunities for brunch, to tip one’s head back in the late afternoon sun, to listen to Sam Cooke on repeat in a grassy field somewhere. It feels incredibly expansive and limitless to have naught to think of apart from the enjoyment of a single moment.
It’s surprising how closely we can focus on the attainment of pleasure, can experience an instant with every fiber of our being, if we allow ourselves to think only of that particular aspect of our reality. Such an experience is common on weekends, when all else that could occupy a mind seems far removed from present experience. I wasn’t thinking of summer internship applications while watching Black Panther and eating only red and blue Sour Patch Kids this weekend. I wasn’t worried about the bike ticket I still haven’t paid or my pile of dirty clothes while both ironically and unironically belting out the words and cutting a serious rug to “Despacito.” Is it my mindset which categorizes these things as worries? Could that most charged idea of enlightenment be a pursuit of neutrality in regards all thought, all action, all experience?
I wonder why we look so forward to “time off” from our lives. It seems strange in the same way we consider candy, something objectively bad for us, a treat. Aren’t we satisfied with the things we’re eating? Aren’t we content with the things we’re doing? Why are we always anticipating that next weekend when we can step away from responsibility for a loud night with friends or a trip to the cinema? Why is it that we are always looking for, and needing distractions from, the existence we are crafting?
It seems we ought to spend less time fantasizing about spring break, summer vacation, next weekend and start considering how we can bring that same level of excitement, enthusiasm and anticipation to our engagement with the everyday. The Monday morning Earl Grey in the yunomi cup from Goodwill, the trip to the gym climaxing in seeing Chloe Kim win gold on the properly sized elliptical screen. All the things we do have the potential to take on the mantle of sensational.
As a 21-year-old I feel grateful for the time I have left to parse through the concept of creating personal pleasure. I feel empowered by the knowledge that many things in life are a matter of mental state and that a celebration of the everyday is something accessible to me through careful cultivation of experience. I look forward to conjuring up the feeling I get from a particularly wonderful break and seeing the ways in which I can transpose these sensations onto biking to class with a Tuck and Patti song playing or stopping in at Munger to load up on baguettes, prosciutto and strawberries. It seems unacceptable to me that we can’t feel the way we want whenever we want.
Contact Hannah Broderick at inbloom ‘at’ stanford.edu.