• Ben Vasko

Short thought: Don't keep your head down while you grind this semester out.

Updated: Nov 12, 2019

Howdy y'all! It was hard to believe that November was here until I woke up and saw a high of 34 degrees. YIKES. The semester is flying by here at BU as I am sure it is wherever you, the reader, may be. In this whirlwind of midterms, juries, recitals, concerts, and the occasional flu, it is easy to switch on our autopilot. Mindlessly "practicing" and somehow taking perfect notes (or online shopping) in class without actually having heard a word the professor said. We all somehow seem to believe that if we keep our head down and grind then we will emerge from our toilsome, academic anti-hibernation as better musicians and smarter students. While this can be somewhat true, but I'm here to remind you that its OK to look up and around every once in a while.

I've discussed before how rest and time-off allow us to process what we have learned. When you're at your peak busyness, the best way to achieve this is to take breaks throughout the day. Tiny little breathers that allow your world to stop spinning for a few minutes so you may resume being present in the activity in which you are participating. By being more aware of what you are doing, you will be more efficient and actually save time. I typically get up to take a walk or do a little breathing exercise to allow myself to sense everything around me and ground myself to the present.

I notice that when I keep my head buried in my work, I am really unhappy. I'm basically stuck with myself all the time, and let me tell you- we aren't best friends. Gently interrupting your routine to go get coffee with a friend or even just talk to someone can be enough to get things to settle down. What's more helpful is that your colleague is likely feeling similar this time of year. Let that interaction allow you both to find strength in shared experiences. You have more problems in common with people than you think. Like Mark Manson says in The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck, "Your problems aren't special and neither are you." Know that people are there for you and they understand the struggle.

Music school is hard and we need to take care of each other. Don't get stuck in what you do every day simply because it's what you do every day. If you need some sort of sign to take a break, drop that class, take the day off, go have a beer with lunch- here it is. You earned it.

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©2018 by Ben Vasko.

Boston, USA

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