Written by James Spaan, Resident Director
A few days ago, I was talking with my friend who helped start an online company a few years ago. During our conversation, we talked about how he and his co-founder both work essentially 19 hours a day, 7 days a week. I mean if you do the math, they both work more or less 80% of their lives. I asked him what I thought was a normal question, “When is your next vacation?” His response startled me a little; “What would I do!?”
After a little discussion around the topic I came to realize that he really hadn’t stopped to relax since he graduated from college. Even in college he was a part of numerous clubs, was double majoring in computer science and business, worked 20 hours a week in his school’s technology services department and somehow managed to travel abroad his junior year. As I was listening to his story, I couldn’t help but admire his dedication, work ethic and accomplishments, while simultaneously I felt tired for him and wondered if he truly had a chance to appreciate his efforts.
I see this same passion and drive in the students here at Puget Sound. I work with a student who is a student leader, a member of a fraternity, sits on a few committees, is an official for student government, all while working on their academics that are grueling and demanding. I work with another student who is an athlete, taking three sciences courses with labs, sings and works on campus 8-10 hours a week, who hopes to graduate a semester early so they can get an internship that will hopefully translate into a full time position. I could list the profiles of almost every student I have come in contact with here at Puget Sound and they would all be similar; driven, multi-faceted, accomplished.
However, in my conversations with these students I have also found a common couple of themes. They are tired, feel like they don’t have enough time in the schedule to fit everything and often sacrifice taking care of themselves in order to fit everything in. When I ask these students how they relax I often get a similar response to my friend, “I don’t have time to relax” or “I don’t really know how to.”
Reflecting back on my experiences in life, I started to think about music. As we live our lives out, the moments and experiences that make our existence are the notes that are played. Every time a student goes to practice, class, or work, they are adding another note to their score. However, the most important thing I learned when I was learning to play musical instruments was to embrace the breath marks, don’t rush the moments of silence. They are what make music.
In our day to day lives breath marks are moments of rest and they are critical to the beauty and success of our journey, not just because they prevent burn out, but because they make the moments in our lives where we are “doing” that much more important. Taking the time to care for the self is more than preventing burn out. It gives us time to sit and reflect upon what has been accomplished and where we are headed.
This week I would encourage you to embrace the breath marks.