This weekend I decided to reboot. It’s been a long haul both personally and professionally for the last year, so it was time to escape for some ‘me’ time. Some lessons I learned that will hopefully provide some nuggets of info to people who may feel like a really expensive shrink is their only option.
1) Go hang out with the people who knew what you were like ten years ago. Reminisce, and let them mock you for becoming too big for your britches. Let them remind you when they had to carry you home from a bridge where, supposedly, you’d had too much to drink, and sneak you into your residence hall room (bonus points if you were the person in charge of the residence hall). Let them hassle you over old girlfriends, poor choices in cars, and public urination. Let them decide if you’ve changed for the better or worse, and make sure they are the people who will tell you to your face.
2) Always find a Jesuit or two to bounce ideas off of. Like, "should I have ended that previous sentence with a preposition?" Or more fittingly, let them serve as tolerant adjudicator as you wander around for a few hours of reflection that only Jesuits can offer. Be prepared to be honest up front, because they will get it out of you if you aren’t. Remember the Inquisition. Engage in mental jousting on topics you rarely have time to talk about with normal people (African politics? Sure! deTocqueville’s influence on public discourse? NO problem! Ethics of genetic engineering? Why not!)
3) Find a place with good, not great, weather. Great weather makes me feel inadequate, like I should be doing something more with my day. Good weather, like clear but a little bit cold and a passive aggressive threat of rain, keeps me from wandering too far from climate control, but gets me out, if only for a little while.
4) Set aside at least a quarter of your day to do whatever it is you do to turn off from the outside. Me, that’s reading a book or three. Turn on music you rarely listen to, find a nice couch (bonus points if it’s in a hotel room, where none of your personal artifacts get in the way), and zen out. Resist, at all costs, touching a piece of gear any more advanced than a clock radio (Kindles are OK, but you’ve got to keep the wireless connection OFF). Turn off the phone. Refuse to pay for the hotel internet.
5) Smile and laugh – a lot. It has some weird biochemical effect on the body that supposedly is good for you.
I’m sure there are some other lessons from the 24 hours I spent away, but they have escaped me. But God Damn, everyone needs to do it. I don’t care how happy you are (or happy you pretend to be in the face of all that is fucked in the world of ours), if you are the big I on the Myers-Briggs scale, I can’t think of anything better to reorient the compass. There were a lot of laughs, some chuckles, some "Jesus Stefan, you’re a dick"s, some tears, and some surprises that shouldn’t have been given that we’re all getting older. Happy reflections on things that were, and things that can’t be. I’m doing it quarterly from now on – so anyone on the team – take note I will be GONE one in 12 Fridays.
Lest you think I’ve lost my mind and have regressed to a halcyon-induced state of mental anesthesia, fear not. Those of us assembled ended the night drunk off our asses.
I suppose that should have been number 6).