Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Heavy Boots

Noise, noise, noise. Its inescapable. 

With school coming to an end, finals beginning, saying goodbye on my mind and summer right around the corner, there are a lot of loose ends to be tied up. Work schedules, internship arrangements, end of classes, finals, group projects, meetings and meetings and meetings.  At times, all of our days are filled with too much.

When I arrived home after spending nearly 12 hours on campus I was right back out the door (and down 10 flights of stairs) when my building's fire alarm went off. Just what I needed, more noise..literally. Any motivation I had to begin work post-9:00pm was officially shot. I wanted to decompress from the day. I wanted to write, to work, but my brain was literally..mush (picture that "this is your brain on drugs" PSA--that's what I felt like). I was anxious and drained at the same time. Restless and overwhelmed.

It got me thinking about Oskar and his heavy boots. 
For those of you who haven't read Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (which I highly recommend), you have no idea what I'm talking about. Oskar, the narrator, is a witty and clever 9 year old, wise beyond his years, and often talks about his heavy boots. Oskar's heavy boots describe his feelings of anxiousness, sadness, confusion and at times an overwhelming sense of fear. Oskar's heavy boots arise in situations where he literally feels pulled down, overwhelmed. Think of it like a weight on your shoulders. 

While I wouldn't equate my own heavy boots to Oskar's complex and challenging feelings, I think we all know what its like to feel overwhelmed, bogged down, trapped under the weight of projects, time lines, complex relationships and those days when you just don't feel yourself. Days when you're feeling, well, heavy boots. Maybe not sad, or depressed or anxious like Oskar, but going through the motions, on repeat, trapped in a day full of noise (figurative or literal).

Personally, I think its natural to have heavy boots once and awhile; one of life's many stresses. But its equally important to understand how to kick them off and allow yourself to breathe under the weight of everything, because crazy days, noise--they're not going anywhere.

For me last night it was simple. Silence. Now that may seem like a strange concept, seeing as how I live alone, but last night my apartment was truly silent. No 18 forms of entertainment on at once, no catching up on the phone, no talking to myself (please, you know you all do it), and somehow what felt like not a single thought in my head. I cleaned, I sat on the computer, I made my lunch for the following day, I waded into nothingness for as long as it took to decompress. No thoughts of deployment, no thoughts of finals, research, work or what tomorrow would bring. Just clarity and some much needed perspective. 

Times get tough, tougher for some than others, but its hard to think clear with a head full of noise. We all have different heavy boots, but the important thing is this: don't get trapped. Sometimes all it takes is a deep breathe, an hour of silence, or a mind swimming with nothing to kick them off for good. 

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