In pursuit of nothing… and doing it well

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The moon shines bright above our dock

We’ve all had those days, when life trips you up and kicks you over and over again when you’re down. I just survived a “life-tripping-me-up” kind of week.

I watch World News Tonight with David Muir (my favorite TV show) every night, and it never fails to humble me. No matter how bad I think I’ve got it, someone else has it worse. Nevertheless, it was still a rough week.

Last Monday I took an exam and turned in the first component of a semester-long research paper, feeling pretty confident that I would do well on both. On Wednesday I found out that I hadn’t, and learned that I would have to pick a new topic and start over on my paper because it wasn’t what the professor was looking for. That threw me into a tail spin. I loved my topic, and all that work…

Thursday was nothing special, just another day. I went to practice for the riding team that evening feeling enthused about the upcoming jumping lesson. I must have been too focused to realize I was getting sick throughout the hour-long lesson, but when I dismounted I started feeling nauseous. Long story short, I puked all over my car on the drive home.

I felt better on Friday morning and still made it to my one class, but by the time I got home I was in one of those moods where I really wanted to climb into a hole and escape from the world for a while. Homework assignments, a fast-approaching class project, research paper, upcoming Spanish exam and a mountain of study abroad paperwork all weighed heavy on my mind. I’m just one person, how do I get it all done?

After spending my entire Saturday morning and afternoon trying to tackle the seemingly bottomless checklist, my mom and I packed up and went to our lake cottage, picking up a pre-cooked Walmart chicken and renting movies along the way. We arrived in time to watch the sun dip below the trees and the full moon rise over the lake, reflecting on the water.

We had no agenda, just eating and watching movies. And the next morning we did the same, watching Pride and Prejudice and eating homemade rhubarb crisp for breakfast before taking the dogs on a 3 mile walk. When we returned, I shamelessly sat around and ate more food while reading the Thoroughbred Daily News and enjoying the view of the lake.

Later we went paddle boarding with the dogs. The sky was an amiable gray, not with the threatening look of rain, just gray. The water was calm, undisturbed by the boat traffic that you see during the summer. The trees, in the midst of their transition from green to shades of yellow, orange and red, had an ombre appearance.

And then we packed up and went home.

As I sat down at my laptop that night, armed with a notebook and pencil to battle the homework beast that had consumed me throughout the week, I felt different. Lighter, more content. The stress, the never-ending paperwork, books, application forms, all seemed manageable. I won’t ever get it all done at once – the checklist will never be empty. But sometimes the best way to deal with everything is to be in pursuit of nothing at all. When you’ve mastered that, the rest will come easier.

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