I recently forgot about an awards ceremony I had wanted to attend to celebrate the work of two writers whom I regard highly and whose poetry I have enjoyed reading and listening to at readings.
I was shocked that I’d forgotten about this event. And then I remembered that I had been so tired that I had come home after seeing my chiropractor and running errands and eaten lunch followed by a nap. I had a late afternoon tutoring session scheduled with one of my private students, it had been raining really hard and I knew I’d be driving in bad weather plus would need to have my energy up for the tutoring session. I had taken care of myself by slowing down and resting before going out to tutor a student.
The shock for me was that I’d forgotten about the event altogether. I had instead focused on what I needed at the time.
These are the final weeks of fall quarter at the academic institution at which I coordinate and serve as a consultant in the writing center. My days have been filled with one appointment after another, emails in which students ask questions about how to schedule an appointment, or what to do when they can’t find a time to schedule an appointment because the calendar is full. Their anxiety is high. They want to finish their papers and assignments. Sometimes, they have hit roadblocks in their writing and feel that they don’t know where to go next. Or, they have forgotten what they planned to write about or why they had chosen a particular topic in the first place.
I am there to answer their questions about logistics. I am there to guide them back to that original spark that sent them down the path of writing the paper. I am there to ask them questions which push their thinking. I am there to both suggest and teach them strategies for drafting, revising, proofreading, brainstorming and citing sources.
I enjoy working with students on their writing dilemmas, exploring their questions, asking them to tell me more about what they would like to convey in their written work. I enjoy teaching, which is what I get to do in a one-on-one format in the writing center. And I get to celebrate students’ successes with them when they feel they have conveyed what they truly want to in the best way possible with clarity.
I am fortunate that I enjoy the meetings and workshops that make up my work. And the bonus is that I learn about the ideas and concepts that students care about in the fields that they are currently scholars and practitioners in. I learn how their work will positively impact our collective future. And that is indeed a blessing.
All of this work that I so enjoy takes a lot of energy, focus and attention on others. I have been meditating for over 40 years and this is one of the practices that has provided me with the focus and presence that is needed both for my work and for my survival in this world.
I see how crucial my meditation practice has been and continues to be for my survival. I also see how forgetting about an awards ceremony and instead taking a nap was crucial to my well being and survival. My writer friends are no less dear to my heart and I will continue to support them, but I needed to put myself first on that day. My shock is slowly turning to awe at the care I extended to myself when I needed it.