Student Post: Abby Diamond
14, November 2011 § 1 Comment
My junior year of high school, I realized that I needed to change. It began with the unnerving sense that I was following a trajectory of always looking forward to what comes next (next week, next assignment, next form of schooling) without being able to revel in my present moment. I was a student who would stay up working until 12:30 at night and then wake up at 5:00 the next morning to do more work for days on end. I loved school. I was hungry for the knowledge but the pressure I felt to succeed, to achieve, to excel beyond expectations was forcing me into a corner and my body couldn’t handle what I demanded of it. I was exhausted, getting sick all the time, and worst of all, time was whizzing by. At the rate I was going, I felt like I was racing for something, but I couldn’t say what it was.
I knew I had to take a gap year before college because I wanted so desperately to stop everything and look at life from a new angle. I wanted the time and space to immerse myself in my passions in totality and to strive to perfect them. To be surrounded by creativity that would inspire me to bring out my own. It feels somewhat surreal how perfect the Aegean Center is turning out to be for those needs.
Stepping into my new world, I found that the changes occurred naturally. I started writing in a word document on my computer called “My happiness project” multiple times a day and jotted down random thoughts, quotes, and sketches in journals. I vowed to stay off of Facebook and my quality of life swelled immediately. I gave some long and hard thought to the concept of generosity, and finally figured it out in full what I assumed I had known all my life; share everything and the world will be even more beautiful! I started listening to podcasts about energy healing and stopped wearing shoes most of the time. I’m not exaggerating… I found peace.
Perhaps the most surprising thing about all of this is how much work I am actually doing. Hours are spent in my painting studio, the music room practicing arias, vocal exercises and breath technique, in my apartment writing short stories or sitting somewhere outside, drawing for Jun’s Basic Drawing Class assignments. The difference is that it doesn’t feel like work. In fact, I dropped the phrase “getting work done” in my mind altogether, because now I know it’s not about being finished with something. Rather, it is about the moments that go into creation. When I stopped seeing the final result as being the objective, I learned to feel where I was, what I was doing, to feel my process, feel the present moment.
I stopped eating as fast as I could. Stopped editing my creative writing with the intention of pleasing any eyes but my own. Stopped scribbling down schedules for myself planned down to the minute. I slowed down. I started doing stretches and laughter yoga every day. Miraculously, I somehow had more than enough room in the day for what I wanted to do. Without Facebook or TV shows or texting, I found that I was incapable of wasting time. Whether my moments went into drawing in my sketchbook, cooking for my friends, sleeping, having a conversation with someone face to face, or standing silently and feeling myself breathe, I was living in a way that was healing and refreshing. I finally felt that I owned my actions and that I was doing everything for myself.
Early on, there was that inkling of dread in the back of my mind that said this was all too good to be true. Maybe I could live my months in bliss here, but ultimately I would go back home and feel once again swallowed by deadlines, checklists, and the saying my mother learned from her days of pastry chef school playing in my head to “move with a sense of urgency.” But as the days have unfurled and I keep getting happier and happier, less and less stressed, that sense of panic I felt looses its hold. To the questions that I have been asking myself from the moment I stepped into the Villa Rospigliosi in Pistoia: “Why can’t real life be like this? Why can’t creativity govern me all the time?” I suddenly dare to answer “It can.”