We all remember the “firsts.” Pasted into scrapbooks, framed on the wall, documented in writing, they surround us with memories of the beginning. First word, first step, first day of school, first kiss, first love, first loss. These are the stuff of stories, easily recalled at family reunions and dinner parties. But how often do we remember the “lasts”?
Once again, history was repeating itself and I had taken on too much. For once in my life, I wasn’t procrastinating (that much) or prioritizing the wrong tasks. No matter how much I accomplished, this monstrous wave of to-dos and assignments and meetings kept looming larger and larger behind me, and it was only a matter of time before its crest broke and swept me out to sea with it.
Tuning into our bodies opens us up to insight that no degree of rationality could. You can intellectualize all you want, but sometimes, it’s no replacement for something as simple as sitting with your emotions.
In a similar way, the dream of fundamentally revamping your life overnight just doesn’t translate into reality. You can dream about your dozen resolutions ’til the cows come home, but if you stop to think about it for a split second, the realization hits that there just isn’t enough time in a single day to do it all, let alone do it all well.
In short, I am a creature of habit. But aren’t we all? Routine, tradition, schedule: it’s so much easier to choose the comfortable inertia of what’s familiar over the uncertainty that comes from a gamble.
So what can we do to fight against a constant state of worry, negativity and self-doubt?
I live in a co-op. You may have heard of them. They’re those “really grimy, dirty houses on campus where people don’t shower and grow excessively long body hair.” Or at least, that’s what they are to those who have been too frightened by the prospect of dirt to actually walk inside.
Forget midterms. For the past month, my Halloween costume has been the major source of stress in my life.
My point is less about the joys of kale per se than it is about the process through which I came to love it -- that is, by making it my own. I don’t intend to make any sweeping nutritional statement about the health benefits of oregano or how imbibing ginger tea three times a day improves digestion. I’m talking about something much more basic and vastly more important: the simple enjoyment of preparing food and then eating it.
Let me just begin by saying that this column has been a struggle. I literally agonized for days over the subject matter. Sure, I had a few ideas, but none of them seemed good enough or appropriately timed for the circumstances of this particular week. Body painting? Too trite. Reunion Homecoming? Way too obvious. Lemon zest? (Yes, that was an option for this week’s column.) Too obscure. I sat and waited for inspiration to descend upon me in a golden haze. I took long walks, hoping my “Eureka!” moment would come somewhere between Alvarado and Gerona. Not one bit.
Exactly one week ago, the class of 2012 traded jeans for pencil skirts or slacks and flip-flops for high heels or loafers in preparation for the first milestone of the Cardinal Recruiting Calendar: the Fall Career Fair. Hundreds of potential employers swarmed White Plaza, each booth carefully packaged in plastic wrap to ward off unexpected showers. It’s a cruel twist of fate, really: one minute, you’re a happy-go-lucky undergraduate who’s guaranteed an outlet for anything you want to do on campus (Stanford clubs plead with you to join at the Activities Fair). The next thing, the tables have turned: suddenly, all the people behind the booths hold your future in their hands. Tell us why we need you, they ask.
But with week two at a close, the energy has shifted. That bubbly, over-the-top enthusiasm has gone flat as we resign ourselves to the daily grind. Between classes, advisor meetings, three clubs, tutoring, problem sets, papers and at least a modicum of hygiene and sleep, where does spontaneous social interaction fit in? When our schedules solidify, the first thing to go is that same human connection I, for one, so craved upon starting school.
For most of us, the sound of an alarm clock is tantamount to impending doom. Who doesn’t shudder at the thought of the synthesized marimba chime of an iPhone? -- or at the alarm clock that grins obnoxiously and chirps “Good morning!” when all you want to do is beat its little electric cogs into a pile of scrap metal? Sure, it can smile; you’re still the one who has to face the day.