Some days my mind feels sluggish and cold, tired and stiff, like muscles the day after a long, hard run. Other days it is alive, awake and ready for new things to waltz in and fill my mental shelves of knowledge. Today was one such day and over the course of these last fifteen hours, I have learned quite a bit, from steps in self-awareness to circuses to American history.
Things I learned today:
1. Listening to my body and following through with what it is telling me is not something I do often enough. I fell into the habit a long time ago of pushing myself and my body to the limits and this is proving to be a difficult habit to break. This morning, however, I decided to really pay attention to how I was feeling and let that decide what would be best for my body. So, instead of going for a run, as I planned, I went back to bed for an hour and woke up more refreshed and content than I have in quite a while. The soreness in my legs from running and the pain from long-lasting injuries dissipated bit by bit, leaving me in a stronger state for tomorrow and the rest of the week. Today, it seems, I just needed a day of rest.
2. The topic for my middle school class this morning was Cirque du Soleil, which turned out to be a fantastically interesting subject. I learned that Cirque du Soleil started in Canada (I thought it was French!). It was a bit of a long and difficult road to success for the Cirque, but now it is one of the most spectacular shows in the world. As I watched several clips of performances, I was greatly reminded of a book I read a couple months ago, The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern. The way the performers moved, their costumes, the colors and overall feel of the show was exactly how I imagined the circus in Morgenstern’s amazing novel. The connection between the two made me want to re-read the book and see a Cirque du Soleil performance one day.
3. When it comes to writing, there are a billion different hints, rules, guidelines, pointers and suggestions. Reading writing tips is something I absolutely adore doing, and as of last week when Writing 201 began, I have had a great opportunity to read through writing help and contemplate my own work. I have not yet posted anything for Writing 201, preferring instead to be a lurker, at least for the time being, but the course materials have been fantastic. If I learn nothing else, I will have learned that when it really comes down to it, writing is really about how it works for you, because for every hint that says do not do this or that, another will say do this or that same thing. This is a good mental note to keep at the forefront when writing.
4. The last thing I learned today was much more on the depressing/bittersweet/heartbreaking side of the spectrum from my other discoveries. From 12 Years A Slave, I learned about the life of Solomon Northup. I am not sure how much the film altered the story of Solomon Northup’s life, struggle and everlasting hope (I’m going to read the book to find out), but it opened my eyes to an aspect and angle of this horrendous period in American history which I had not learned about before: free people being abducted and sold as slaves. The entire time I was watching the movie I was completely horrified. The hate, prejudices and injustices of it all just fill me with deep regret and sorrow. Upon his escape from slavery, Northup worked to help end slavery and was active in assisting people on the underground railroad. His strength, determination and hope are astounding and I am thankful for the people like him who had the courage to stand up against the system, despite the dangers, to make the country a better place. I am grateful today to have learned Solomon Northup’s story and so sorry that he never saw justice in his lifetime.