Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Mental Space

I am sitting with one of my best friends at the bookstore cafe, writing this instead of my final papers for Evil (don't worry, I'll get to them as soon as I am done here). Yesterday I took my only final exam, and the relief and sense of freedom lasted about half a day before I started worrying about how I'm going to find an internship for the summer.

Even though I don't have any pressing need to stay on campus, I'm not going home until Saturday morning. I want to be here with nothing to do, to have time to explore campus and just hang out with my friends, to go to Cantor for a day and admire the art I have not had time to admire. I love this school and I know I will miss it when I am at home.

I need to take a breather.


This weekend, one of the RFs (resident fellows) of my dorm and the student health advisor led a meditation session to help us destress from finals. We sat cross-legged at one of the quietest spaces on campus for about fifteen minutes, breathing in and breathing out, and not thinking about anything.

That was nice. Fifteen minutes of nothing but cold fresh air, the sound of water, wind in the leaves. I became very aware of points of tension in my shoulders and back from too long sitting at a desk. I don't like to be mystical, but even I could feel how with repetition this kind of thing could take on a spiritual valence. It may be valuable.


Since coming to college, I've dropped a lot of good habits I had before. Writing almost every day is the most prominent, of course; but also, stretching in the morning and evening, practicing trombone regularly, reading books, and pulling out time for strategy summits with myself (you know my tendency to self-aggrandize).

I need to bring back the logbook. Those little squares filled with Xs were a constant throughout my last three years of high school, and I think they added a lot of value. I'm very big on preserving bits of the past, of keeping records, of holding on to relics. Why this is so could go farther into my psychology than I would like to put on the internet; let it suffice to say that I do like preserving information.

(This is part of the reason why I am so enamored of the idea of Rome.)

Why are logbooks valuable? They ensure that our efforts do not go unremarked, which has the silly psychological effect of validating daily work. They are a tangible expression of the accumulation of work over time. They bring awareness of what we are doing with our time.


Awareness is a concept around which I have not walked. Some associations: "what does it even do?", the Kony 2012 campaign that swept through Midwestern channels of communication before leaping to the coasts, people saying "check your privilege," self-consciousness, being klued v. wedged, avoiding faux pas, holding doors open for people and pushing your chair in when you stand up, facebook posts about Ferguson, drinking green tea very poisedly in an all-white modern flat with floor-to-ceiling windows, inner ear fluids, BBC Sherlock saying exactly the wrong thing at the wrong time, the tyranny of nice v. being a considerate human being, my high school best friend calling me Captain Obvious. Eyes wide open.


Writing things down takes off the mental burden of remembering them. I have found myself having many of the same thoughts over and over this quarter and I should just commit them to paper, let them go free. But for some reason I haven't. A lot is because it's scraps of character dynamics and conversations and I don't, for some reason, like to write it down when it changes every iteration.

The human mind is an incredible thing, but to maximize its effectiveness why should we not leverage the tools it has created? Namely, distributed knowledge in the form of writing.

I need to go to a quiet place in my mind and write it all out. Every bit. Keeping things in your head is the equivalent of leaving something read but unarchived in your email. I cleaned out my inbox today and feel a lot better about life. I should do the same with my mind.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, do!
    When you go to college your time mysteriously starts going faster, even during periods of time when you don't have *that* much to study or when you don't have *that* many engagements. You just have so little time to do the things you used to do, the things that made you you in a way. I found myself in this predicament many a time, and I am sad to say that many a time i just reconciled myself with the idea that i'm just lazy. But i'm so grateful to my past self for the times that i was not, for the times that i did cut out an hour of my time during a busy day just to sit down and share a memory or an opinion with my future self, i'm so grateful for all the scribbles and post-its and posts. When you get older you're going to want to go back and read back, you're going to be interested in what you had to say back in the day. From one self-centered introvert to another: write. Write your opinions and your memories, and your logbooks too. Maybe right now writing them down will only serve to clear out your mind space and tidy up there, but in the future it will be an interesting piece of something you would have otherwise forgotten, or at the very least something you would never have remembered quite so vividly as when it actually happened.