Even though I’ve just started my sophomore year, freshman year feels like it occurred in a previous lifetime that I have no connection to anymore. Even more baffling, the previous summer seems like a hazy turn of events concocted out of of some fever dream. Though these events seem to have happened so long ago now, when I try to place myself back in these parts of my timeline, I remember the individual moments and days that seemed to stretch on forever within them. This leads me to wonder, how did those seemingly unending moments fade away from my immediate recollection so fast?
One answer that always comes to me is that the nature of our daily lives at Duke just simply does not allow our immediate memory to extend further back than a day. There always seems to be so much to do within each day, that it seems to take all of my mental ability just to keep track of the present day, with no ability to pause and take in or remember the events of the previous day.
On one hand, staying fully immersed in the present without consideration of the day before or the day to come might be seen as a good and healthy way to live life that allows one to take full advantage of life’s pleasures without losing time on worrying about what has happened or what will happen. However, more often than not, I find my fast-paced daily life to be more of a detriment to my overall experience because it leaves me with no time to assess where I am or where I am heading, and instead just leaves me with a constant feeling of desperation to get through each day in the most productive manner without reflecting on the point of my productivity.
Perhaps I am alone in experiencing this daily state of timelessness in which time seems to drag on with every day. However, based on conversations that I have had with others here, this state of intense daily schedules eroding any semblance of time does not seem to be unique to me. It seems that more often than not, large workloads and demands from various aspects of life that pull us in so many different directions on a daily basis have made it exceptionally hard to keep track of where we are in life. That ends up being quite an issue in the modern world, where everything operates to increase efficiency and productivity, but if we have no time to reflect on the very fruits of the intense productivity that our hyper-efficient methods create, then is there any real worth in working so hard to maximize every moment of our time? Is there any point to blasting through life so fast that you can hardly even stop to enjoy it?
Personally, I think there is not much worth in a life that is conducted at hyper speed all the time and an existence that sees productivity as the only meaningful accomplishment worth achieving. Instead, It would be worth it for all of us to carve some time out in our days just to reflect on the small moments so that we can break down everything that happens, and not lose sense of who we are in the fast-paced milieu that defines our time at Duke and that will go on to define our lives in the future beyond here. Taking a few minutes at the end of the day to take a step back and reflect might seem tiresome, and just another thing to do after doing so much already, but it could help us all take a moment to just breath, relax, and reflect on all the small things that make up the overall hectic, but rewarding, experiences that we have here at Duke and beyond.
Maybe this conclusion of taking time to yourself outside of being productive is one that you have already come to based on your own personal experiences, but I still stand to reiterate here that as we get started into a new school year and semester, it might serve us well to pay just a bit more attention to making sure we make time for ourselves and don’t allow ourselves to get too carried away with the never ceasing amount of tasks that we perform everyday. After all, it would be a shame to work so hard everyday and end up feeling lost and no better off at the end of it.
Shirley Mathur is a Trinity sophomore. Her column, "breaking the surface" runs on alternate Tuesdays.
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