For a long time, I would go to bed late.
It wasn’t supposed to be like this: It’d be three in the morning, and I’d plunk down onto my dorm room bed, always face-first into the pillow, and lie there limp before shuffling around a little and falling hard asleep.
Before the bullet train of this past fall semester hit, I looked forward to coming back each night feeling a good kind of tired: The eustress of knowing I’ve done my best, helped people out, and learned something meaningful—but more than not, this wasn’t it.
A friend shared with me a vision she had of a vase of water that she would pour and pour and pour, and the vase would be still just as full at the end of the day. My vase was broken. Because I lived out of a mindset of scarcity, I failed to show up for others. I failed to show up for myself, even if feeling worn out intimated otherwise.
I can’t make up for lost time, but I can start this season anew from a place of self-forgiveness. Scripture shows me that God restores and provides (Romans 15:13, Ephesians 3:19, Psalm 16:5), and I’m grateful for how grace abounds, even as I nurse a hurt ankle right before this new uncertain, hopeful semester starts.
This winter break was the break I needed, and it was the break I deserved. I got to spend time with people I missed (how lucky I am to have people to miss and come home to), and I got to catch up on books:
- All About Love, bell hooks (my third airplane reread)
- Serve the People: Making Asian America in the Long Sixties, Karen Ishizuka
- Radical Candor, Kim Scott
- How to Talk About Video Games, Ian Bogost
- Banker to the Poor, Muhammad Yunus
- The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Haruki Murakami
- A Sense of Urgency, John Kotter
Two books I’m rounding off my last couple days of winter break with:
- Start-up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle, Dan Senor and Saul Singer
- Threads: From the Refugee Crisis, Kate Evans
The most profound thing about being back home this winter break was seeing how quickly everyone had grown up, how we got on with each of our lives. My close friends were talking about graduating early, moving to other cities and traveling the world, anything to escape a sprawling suburban utopia where the grass was too green but the minimum wage couldn’t increase fast enough.
It happened more than a couple of times, just like the Pearl Jam song: I’d walk into an eatery or bookstore, see someone hauntingly familiar behind the counter, and burst into recognition that this was someone I had last seen three, four, six years ago. We’d chat, I’d remember past kindnesses they had blessed me with, and we’d walk outside of each other’s lives as quickly as we had reentered them.
Columbia requires 124 credits to graduate, and I’m going to finish my senior fall semester with all of my requirements completed and exactly 124 credits to show for it.
I don’t have to graduate early, but there’s something wonderful about giving myself the option. There’s something encouraging about working hard this and next semester so it remains an option.
From now on, I’m going to bed early. The thing about the vase is that even if it’s filled to the brim and even if it’s not cracked anywhere, the water’s going to evaporate and dry up if you don’t do anything with it. I can make the choice to pour, pour, and pour: If each person is an opportunity for kindness, each resting hour a lifeline for rest, and each waking one fertile ground for doing some good, I’d best rest up so I can wake up, eyes and hands wide open.