Sunday, October 18, 2009

I Dare You to Move, Like Today (Never) Happened

According to the wise and generally trusted, malaise is "a vague or unfocused feeling of mental uneasiness, lethargy, or discomfort." I used this word a few hours ago, but I admittedly had no idea how accurate it was in describing my mood - though, perhaps a bit closer to melancholy. Over the past few days, I haven't really had a satisfying answer for all the concerned inquiries and kind check-ins, but I appreciate them nonetheless. I can only say that I have been feeling a sense of impending doom. You know that feeling you have while reading Hamlet or Macbeth - that just around the corner is catastrophe (or another one)? Not to say that the life of a college student is equivalent to that of a vengeful prince of Denmark or a murderous Scottish general, but you get the idea.

Well, the next few weeks are full of large-scale things that I have to get done...that is, not just worksheets and reading. I have papers for both Gender Psych and Child Clinical Psych, as well as several essays for the application for the DukeEngage summer program in Northern Ireland. I don't know about you, but I can't generally "schedule" how long it will take me to write something or when the inspiration will come. And I haven't really been inspired.

After a weekend filled with Chapel Choir rehearsals/retreat and an extended chapter meeting for ADPi, I was feeling antsy even though nothing is due for at least a few days. But I decided that it's best to keep things in perspective, so I told Julia (who lives across the hall - quite literally 2 steps) that I was going to swim in hopes of feeling like "less of a weirdo," I believe is how I put it. Out of joint, I think they say.

Every time I get back in the water, I am so glad I made the effort. In the water, I feel alive, strong, and purposeful. There's something ethereal about creating your own rhythm, moving only for yourself, driven only by yourself. I resent the countless hours I've spent pushing myself on a machine, staring at other gym-goers' backsides. But in the water, though I count my laps, time doesn't move so slowly. Actually, time isn't really there with me in the water at all. I can focus on any number of things for a few minutes, but I can also let those same thoughts flow into my strokes. Rumination is not compatible with water. There's too much movement, too much freedom to dwell or stay stuck on something. Just keep moving. Just keep swimming...

Haha. Doesn't all wisdom circle back around to Finding Nemo?

There is this thing that we all seek - contentment is the word some would choose. I think it's peace. Peace doesn't have to be passive and, in fact, anyone who has sought it long enough knows it's not exactly easy to come by. When you think of silence or stillness, maybe you think of passivity. But if you have ever taken a yoga class or studied meditation, do you really just sit there with a blank mind? Is it really that simple - a static state of nothing? No, you're constantly pressing away the distractions, the interruptions, even the pain that threatens this highly-desired state: peace.

In looking for a quote to end with, I came across a range of wise to slightly corny ones. Two deeply resonated with me. The first is in Isaiah 23 of the Old Testament: "You keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you." The second, which reinforces the essence of the previous verse, is connected to the Alcoholics Anonymous program's history (though its authorship in unknown). I leave you with this. "Serenity is not freedom from the storm, but peace amid the storm."