It’s Friday afternoon. I’m sitting on my patio, journaling away; taking in the sunshine and listening to the sounds of my neighbors discuss what kind of beer they’d like to drink later this evening. If it were a normal Friday afternoon, I would currently be sitting in a cubicle, staring blankly at a computer screen, surrounded by background noise…the scanner scanning, the copy machine copying, the secretaries gossiping, you know, the normal day to day monotony of state government offices. However, today is not a normal 8 to 5 work-day on the 5th floor of the Department of Natural Resources. In fact, it’s far from it. Rather than drag myself out of bed at 7 am, I decided to take a mental health day. Yes, I’m playing hooky, and while I believe that I have every right to be doing so, I still feel guilty. But why do I feel guilty? I work hard, I study, I go to class, and if I’m not in class, I’m at work, (well…except for today). But really, why do I feel so guilty for taking ONE day for myself?
In our society, everything is always rush here, hurry there, do this, don’t do that…It’s beginning to feel as if our world is a never ending assembly line, and stopping to take a break or taking a moment to merely wipe the sweat off your brow, will cause everything to come crashing down. Everywhere I go, and no matter whom I talk to, at some point in the conversation that certain haggard lament will arise with a weary sigh: "Ugh! I’m sooo busy, I need a break!” or how about this one, “I never have any time for myself. School is taking over my life!” It seems there's never time to sit back and relax—and if we do, we feel guilty. I believe that life should be more than the 40 hours a week spent on the job or in the classroom, or fulfilling mundane responsibilities. How is it possible that in this complicated 21st century, in a society filled with time-saving devices, a person can’t seem to find the time to take a deep breath and just sit back? Is it EVEN possible? Our calendar has Labor Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving Day, etc. It seems there’s a day for everything. But where’s my day, where’s your day?
But here’s the irony…as soon as that tiny break presents itself; a compulsion to fill it seems to take over. Immediately, we’re rushing to surf the net, talk on our cell phones, play a computer game, go grocery shopping, or something. We find it nearly impossible to sit still. And THAT is the problem. People are unable to simply be. For some reason, society and our own mind, has convinced us that we should never just sit without anything happening, or without DOING something.
Lying in the sunshine without a book or cell phone and allowing your mind to simply cease has become a lost art, as is staring deeply into a crackling fire, or sitting peacefully and contemplating a beautiful sunset. So, what I’m realizing is this…I am so busy trying to get to this hypothetical future that my present moment has been reduced to a means of getting there. For the rest of my day…who cares about missing work, forget about the reading I have due next week, or about the assignment due on Tuesday. I will no longer feel stress or guilt; I will stop splitting myself between the past and the future, and I will accept the present.