The alarm went off at 4.45am. I groaned. I wanted to witness the Dawn Parade for Anzac day, but that did not omit the fact that my eyelids felt like they were weighed down by lead.
I glanced around my room. It was a war zone. Clothes were strewn everywhere, and the faint odour of damp clothing emitted from underneath my bed. I was just back from a road trip to the Tongariro Crossing the day before. Needless to say, I had tons of tramping gear to clean out which I had not bothered to.
A thousand other things swarmed my mind. A test was due in three days and, though I had done one round of revision before embarking on my road trip during the mid-semester break, I could not bring myself to re-visit my notes. I was due to go on another tramping trip with the Auckland University Tramping Club in two weeks and I had recently realized that I was inadequately geared up to confront the wet and cold weather. (2 hours’ worth of shivering after an unsuccessful attempt at the Tongariro Crossing proved the point.) My morale was low. I did not want to face the day.
I checked my phone. The digits on my cracked iPhone screen told me that I had 11 minutes to dress up. My cracked iPhone screen. I groaned, again. Another issue that I had yet to settle.
There have been days like these when my mood swung to the lowest of the low, and I had expected it to be ‘one of those bad days’. I was still of this opinion when I trooped back from the Dawn Parade, tired but satisfied. ‘I’m just going to go to sleep,’ I thought. Normally, I would not have allowed myself to do so. I would have pushed myself to complete the work I had to do. Sleeping, to me, was a cowardly escape. But, I could not care less then … that was just what I needed… I nuzzled into my sleeping bag…
I awoke naturally. It took me a moment to register my surprise at how peaceful I felt. There was some sense that I had regained some control of the life that had seemed to be slipping astray…
I took comfort in the gratitude I felt as I was brushing my teeth. I felt grateful for the peace that my willingness to sleep has brought me.
‘Uhm. It is a war zone,’ I said hesitantly, blocking Caitlin, my floormate, from entering my door to continue a conversation we were having.
‘It’s okay,’ she shrugged. ‘I noticed,’ she added slyly.
It was nice of her not to care, but the sense that my room was unkempt and messy constantly nagged at me as I carried my materials to the study room.
‘I’m just going to do it,’ I thought, determined. ‘I am going to clean up my room, by today.’
I mentally scheduled a study break an hour later to start on my laundry and room clean-up.
I started my ‘laundry’ by Googling ‘how to wash a down jacket’. No longer having mum or dad to turn to for convenience, I was clueless about what to do with the pile of thermal wear sitting on my floor. Carefully writing down the instructions, I repeated them to myself as I trudged to the laundry room.
I learnt that a fleece jacket should be turned inside out before being washed in cold water, and that it should be air dried. I realized that my thermals had to be washed on ‘delicate’ – I had always done it on ‘medium temperature’ without checking.
The most puzzling was the down. I scratched my head. Several websites advocated the use of ‘tumble drying’ as ‘air-drying would cause it to stink’, whereas others vehemently objected the use of tumble drying. Amid my quandary, Duncan, one of my Resident Advisors, walked in and I quickly asked him for advice.
Throughout the afternoon, I started to develop a satisfying routine of scheduling study breaks every hour or so to check on the down jacket that was sitting in the rinse basin, or to give the fleece jacket hanging on the clothes line an extra squeeze.
It was gratifying to know that I now had one unknown under control. Having conquered my first experience of washing thermal wear, I turned to the other obstacles down the line – repairing my phone screen, researching for suitable tramping gear… I even gained the momentum to give my room a big wipe-down, photos of which I immediately proudly circulated to my friends.
The day taught me that all it took was a little prod to get a cycle of productivity going. Getting on top of the inertia-inducing tasks of laundry, chores and maintenance needs made me feel better about myself. Checking on my laundry even gave me the breathers I needed by getting me to jump out of my study seat after each block of study time.
Increasingly, I am realizing that there is nothing stopping me from being happy. It really is about knowing myself and, with that self-knowledge, structuring my life in a way that gets me ticking best. It is about conquering my own thoughts, taking my damnest devils and insecurities by the horns.
A lot of times, I feel breathless and lost because I compare myself to others. Because of that, I set overly high expectations for the day and get all flustered (though I don’t show it) when I do not meet them. Living by my own is gradually making me realize how to care for myself, and I’m realizing today that it begins with –
“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.”
I came across this quote in an article shared on Facebook (http://jamesclear.com/quality-comparison). (There you have it, scrolling through Facebook can be a good thing at times *winks*)
I’m still learning, and there’ll be loads more to share. But for now, I’m just grateful that there is still life amid the ups and downs. Mindfully aware that change is the only constant, I’m ready for the next bumper ride.
Thank you to the people who made my day J
Clare and Nerina, for getting me started on the day with the Dawn Parade J
Duncan, for your advice on washing my down. Air-drying was the right option; it’s all puffy and ready to wear now! J
Thank you Dorothy Ng – the Facebook article you shared really helped me get things into perspective for the day!
Caitlin Thomas, as always, for your good cheer, random popping up on me and corridor conversations. Big heart over here <3
And last but not least, my constants – Backpacker and HH. Thank you for your advice on tramping gear and being such great supports all this while. :,)