November 27, 2012

Le réveil

You’d think that students and faculty on a college campus would all be rested and relaxed after a nice Thanksgiving break. But no, that’s not how it works. That week off is a mirage. When you’re approaching it, the week beckons with the promise of a desert-like expanse of time for those projects you’ve been putting off. But alas, no one ever gets done the work they thought they were going to. When Thanksgiving week is over, and the cold reality of the work week hits, students and faculty alike come back to campus with long to-do lists, heaps of guilt, and very little holiday cheer.

Thanksgiving doesn’t give students enough time to really catch up on sleep or work. Nope, they really just have enough time to go back to their home communities and exchange viruses, which they bring back to campus to share. So yeah. It’s the Tuesday after Thanksgiving and everyone on campus is sick, sleep-deprived, and overwhelmed. The dark, cold evenings we get in November don’t help one bit.

The one bright spot I had today was during class. A group of students were doing a presentation about educating children to connect with nature. Even though it was cold, the students insisted we all go outside for the first ten minutes of the presentation. “Because that’s our point,” said Long Brown Hair. “All education should include the outdoors.” We huddled together near a cemetery filled with trees and tombstones. Red Beard asked us to close our eyes, and he led us through what he called a “Senses Meditation.”

First we had to listen. I could hear the wind pushing the bare tree boughs, the breathing of the students on either side of me. Then we were asked to taste. The sweet taste of the grapes and cereal I eat between classes was still inside my mouth. Then, while holding those sensations in our mind, we had to smell. The wind brought me the scent of dead leaves and of mud, plus a whiff of laundry detergent from the jacket of the student next to me. Just as Red Beard got to the part where he asked us to feel sensations on our skin, the sun came out from behind the clouds. I could hear the sighs around me as we all turned our faces towards the warmth.

That meditation was the best ten minutes of my day.

7 comments:

Bardiac said...

That sounds so wonderful! Your students sound fun when they're working on their outdoors stuff.

jo(e) said...

Bardiac: Yeah. I have really amazing students.

Taradharma said...

being a student was one of the most rigorous jobs I ever had. Cheers to them!

And cheers to that meditation - especially the sun coming out to say hello.

Nik said...

You're right about the post-Thanksgiving slump. It's just the wrong amount of time at the wrong time of the semester. A little butt-freezing meditation does sound like the perfect antidote.

Lorianne said...

What Nik said. I always vow to get caught up with grading over Thanksgiving, and I always come back to school feeling even MORE behind.

readersguide said...

I'm here to agree that Thanksgiving is exhausting. Maybe you get caught up on sleep (or maybe not), but you always come out of it in worse shape than you went in.

Michelle said...

My students brought me a gift like that yesterday (along with the dratted viruses, alas).

May the end of the semester unfold without undue drama....