Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Friday's In My Mind

When I was a undergraduate, living in a dorm, I often looked forward to quiet Friday afternoons, when the local-yocal students bailed and flocked home for the weekend, leaving the residential students to their own devices. There was an air about Friday's that was less about partying and more about centering your spirit. After a long day of classes and working on the college newspaper, returning to your room finding that peace and quiet were your only companions for the early evening hours seemed more than appealing, it was downright fabulous. Privacy was rare when you bunked with others so it was important to seize the moment and create an atmosphere of relaxation but more importantly, spiritual.

I'm not necessarily talking about religious spirituality but learning to delve deep inside yourself, allowing the silence to slowly creep in and learning to enjoy a sweetly lonesome feeling that only comes around in the quiet of a mid-Friday afternoon. My routine was nothing stellar. I usually returned to my room around 3pm, just when the sunlight began to fade into a dark copper hue across the graying sky. I'd change my clothes into something more home appropriate, throwing on a pair of sweat pants and a tie dye, pulling my hair back into a high pony tail and sliding into a nice, cushy pair of boiled wool clogs. Depending on my mood, I'd either throw a record on the turntable or turn the dial to WNEW and listen to Dennis Elsas crank out classic rock favorites that ranged from Blue Oyster Cult to Tom Petty with a little Grateful Dead thrown in there as a check and balance gage. I think I was smoking Salem Slim Lights during that period of my life, switching to Marlboro Lights only when Tequila shot was in hand and my little green box of stogies was empty. I'd light up some of this and that, make a huge pot of coffee, head for the big blue tin of Danish butter cookies in the food cabinet and allow myself to marinate in the hushed bliss of a stolen, peaceful moment that has stayed with me for almost 20 years.

I often venture back those secret sessions of zen when my current world is engulfed in frenzied chaos and embroiled in self made bubbles of stress that never seem to burst. Dr. Weil calls this visualization, a technique used by psychologists, helping patients travel to a safe, comfortable part of their lives but I like to think of it as a way to escape and travel back in time to a place that no longer exists, except in the deep hallows of my mind.

I still enjoy to spend time alone, with myself, enjoying the silence of life and taking a few moments to reflect on the joy that I inherently experience everyday but often take for granted. Mindfulness is an important yet ignored facet in our lives that we must learn to experience, living in harmony with our natural world, as well as learning to love ourselves in a healthy light, while building our self-esteem. Getting to know yourself well and understanding your wants and needs is probably one of the most important, profound exercises that we experience but because of time restraints, stressful jobs and unreasonable expectations we naturally put on ourselves, this vital step in self discovery can be missed, leaving many clueless about the very soul that inhabits their earthly bodies.

If I don't take care of my mind, body and spirit, my world will suffer and relationships will become strained. Without being selfish, I know when I need to revisit that old dorm room in Brookville Hall, spin a few records, take a couple of gulps of freshly brewed java, and sit in the silence of my mind, trying to recapture a sparkling Friday afternoon, when the air of responsibility lived in a far off land and I was truly free. I relish that small moment in time and hope that you can find one that recalls a pure and genuine instance when you felt at ease in your own skin.

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