Jennifer A. Chin (cswallow) wrote,
Jennifer A. Chin

Beyond survival

Yesterday was exhaustion complete, a knock-down drag-out tired, I walked through my day in a haze, regretting its loss.

The econ midterm went by in shambles. It's true that you finish faster, I told a classmate later, when you don't know the answers. My one hope for success? The incredible team that I spend so much of my time with, pulling together two hours before hand and reviewing practice problems on the board until we had run out of questions.

I admit yesterday was a failure. I want to do more than survive my days.

At 12 I fell into bed, secured to sleep by the gentle tether of rainfall on wet leaves. 

My eyes take an hour in the morning to finally focus. At half past eight, long after my usual alarm, I pad down the stairs to the warm presence of my housemates and loiter. I am incomprehensibly happy to be up while my roommates are bustling through their morning, to have the calm of saying good-bye to them as they trickle out of the house by one and two. I pour my coffee (brewed bitterly strong today), stand on the porch and breathe the loamy air, surrounded by the sparkling beads of caught rainwater. Some fairy hour, this is.

I went, this weekend, to Providence. I love to walk a city's streets upon first meeting, to feel the way my body fits in the air, the way the city holds me amongst the flow of people and colour.
I recall a time, mere years ago, when my spirit subsided. I forgot how to breathe, how to feel the world with my eyes and skin. The tall trees on the roadside, the blush of spring blooms outside the window, the scrape of California's golden hillsides - they were plastic constructs, glossy but hard. I could not find myself in them.
This weekend's visit, brief as it was, contained nothing of that. I can still taste the smoke of the fires that burned in the river for the Waterfire festival, still taste the sweet slush of Del's Lemonade, still feel the sun passing the arched branches of American elms and dogwoods to illuminate us amongst the buildings of Brown's campus, still smell the musk of books in the Aetheneum's darkness.
Even the travel fiascos of the trip - a flat tire, missed flights - seemed somehow sharper for their disturbance; a reminder to stay awake, to remember ourselves.

Sunday afternoon found me back in class, Statements of Cash Flows finally making sense. Sunday evening at Tim's "forest cottage" with he and Chel, Olgun and Aylah, Dora, Chad, Mohammed and May and their beautiful children. There are few things better than a homecooked meal with people I trust and love.

It's easy to think that business school trains us only to think of becoming more efficient, faster and stronger at everything, to move toward our goals with the most focus we can muster. Every philosophy, however, has its balance. We must also learn when to give time, when to be softer and slower. Build dams in your own river; force it if you must. Let the sediment settle before going on. Without this, we end up in the sea with no clue of how we came there.
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