V is for Vivre
“Over the years I've had my share of friends, enemies, lovers, losses and triumphs. With time they all begin to run together. But you will find the real moments are vibrant. The rest just fades away. Your pain will fade.” — Joseph Morgan as Klaus Mikaelson in The Originals, Season 2, Episode 1, “Rebirth.”
Since the semester started, I’ve been going at work nonstop during the week and crashing (hard) on the weekends. It’s not exactly a sustainable lifestyle, but it’s one that seems to be working for me so far. One of the ways in which I cope with stress is by watching obscene amounts of television. I watch roughly 4 hours of television a week. This may seem counterproductive, but those four hours help me relax and let off steam. I like to take a break when my brain feels fried, watch an episode of one of my shows (The Originals, Selfie, Red Band Society, and How to Get Away with Murder) and I always go back to my work feeling refreshed and more motivated to work. I’m not unproductive while I watch my shows. I spend those precious minutes doing my hair, working on my sewing projects, just hanging out with friends or collecting my thoughts for a project I’m working on.
Sometimes, television may prove to be more stressful than relaxing and I may need to find other ways to relax. Social Board is an organization on campus that provides opportunities for students to take a break from work and from Kenyon at a minimal cost to Kenyon students. It organizes trips to Easton Mall in Columbus and Cedar Point in Sandusky, among others. This past fall break, Social Board teamed up with REACH and STEM — organizations that provide a support system for minority students and for those in STEM fields respectively — to organize a Cedar Point trip. As part of REACH, I got to go on the trip for free. Therefore, I took a break — literally — from all the work my professors graciously bestowed upon me, and I took time out for myself during the fall break.
It wasn’t my first trip to the plethora of metallic behemoths. I had been to Cedar Point with my assigned U.S. host family and with REACH in my freshman and junior years respectively but mostly with disastrous results. You see, there are not many things that scare me as much as chickens do (READ chickens, birds, parrots, parakeets, turkeys, ostriches and basically any organism with feathers) with the exception of heights. And, what do planes and roller-coasters have in common? Exactly! One would think that I would be cured of my fear due to constant exposure to the experience of flying between the U.S. and Nigeria and driving on the hilly backroads of Ohio. And, maybe I was.
I looked forward to this trip as a way to redeem myself from the embarrassment of my previous Cedar Point experiences, which range between crying and begging to be let off rides. So, when I got to Cedar Point this time, I had accepted the challenge. Before I got on every ride, I ran through the list of all my insecurities in my head; “I can fall and die,” “I will fall and die,” “What if I throw up?,” “Whiplash is real,” “Death is real.” Then I took off all my fears, put them in my pocket with my glasses and braced myself for the ride of my life. I rode on every ride I could get on in the 5 hours we spent at Cedar Point, and I loved every minute. Each one of the rides I went on was the ride of my life, and it was awesome.
When I started composing this blog post, I toyed with the idea of comparing my Cedar Point experience to the “real moments” Klaus Mikaelson refers to in the first episode of the new season of The Originals. However, after further reflection today — in the shower, while singing contemporary pop music — I realized that I am just as likely to remember my amazing Cedar Point experience as I am to remember the all-nighter I pulled last night. In a way, I had imagined that only those moments filled with intense joy can be classified as “real.” Now, I believe that the real moments occur when an individual is most engaged in whatever activity they are pursuing which brings them true pleasure, be it finishing up a tough paper in the wee hours of the morning or screaming loudly on the Millennium Force.
When I look back on my Kenyon experiences in the future, I may not recall my awkward relationship trysts or those failed tests as fondly as I may recall my times with great friends, but they are still a part of the moments I’ve had here that were real to me. This is because I was truly present in those moments. That genuine presence — and not the extreme emotional overdose — regardless of the outcome, is what will make these moments vibrant and ingrained in my memory forever.
I wish you all real moments in the coming months, and always.