Monday, August 6, 2012

White Noise

I've been thinking about meditation a lot lately. How to really meditate, disconnect ourselves from the world for a few moments while our brain regroups.

There's a "cool down" on one of the Yoga videos I've been doing lately and as much as it pains me to admit it, the end of this video is the closest I've gotten to turning everything off in a long time. Bob Harper leads the video and he cools his voice down after the intense workout. You just sort of roll your head back and forth and stretch. There's a distinct pattern to it where without even meaning you, your head shuts itself off.

It's amazing to me how much white noise we invite into our lives. Whether that white noise comes from booze and drugs or technology or over booking our lives, there's just too much noise to just enjoy things.

I've been trying to think of the last time I was really able to disconnect. And sadly, I think it was 2003.

I was starting to panic about where to go to college. I had already been late applying to schools so that I would be accepted and ready to go the moment I graduated high school. So my crisis hit fever pitch when all of my friends left and I was still in St. Charles, going to community college.

As a background to my mind set at this time, I felt like everything was forcing me to accept life instead of live it. I had started losing my desire to do something special and had accepted that I would get a 9-5 office job, come home to my house in the suburbs, probably take the dog for a walk, have dinner with the wife and two kids, and then watch TV until I went to bed. To me the suburbs were, and still are to some extent, a death sentence for dreams.

Back to 2003, I was thinking about going to Truman or SEMO because friends of mine went there. I visited both places, liked the campus enough, and since I was already thinking about pursuing a degree in English, there wasn't a top college to go for these studies that I could afford. It didn't really matter where I went, as long as they had a decent English department with Creative Writing as an emphasis.

There was one night when I was driving my car along the Upper Bottom Road. It was probably 10 pm. My car didn't have a CD player or a working tape deck, so I was relegated to the radio, which has been in a sad state of affairs for at least 20 years now. I had turned off the radio, was driving along this road that didn't have many street lights, there were no other cars around, and I started noticing the frogs. I'd heard stories about how many frogs would get ran over on this road, but I'd never heard them before.

I slowed down a little because I just wanted to be in this moment. I looked among the moonlight and found a small parking lot for the Katy trail for me to pull off on. I just sat there for a moment and took a deep breath and I realized why I had been hesitant to send off my application to SEMO and Truman. To me, those schools represented the suburbs. They were calculated, safe bets. I would be going to school with large amounts of people from St. Charles or O'Fallon or Lee Summit. It would be like I never left on an adventure.

I was overcome with this assurance that I hadn't had in years. I knew that I had to go to Mizzou, that was going to be the strange planet, the uphill battle that I needed, so that I could be healthy in my mind and heart again. I would go to this place where there was an international community. Where liberal and conservative ideals collided into each other. Where even if a friend of mine went to the school, the chance of me running into that person were so small, I was assured to meet new people.

And that was the last time I remember turning my brain off and reflecting. Ever since then, even when I'm walking through the quiet streets blanketed in snow after dark, I can't seem to turn off my MP3 player, and just take in everything around me.