Waiting at the airport terminal to head back to my beloved Atlanta and drinking the World’s Worst Cup of Coffee, but grinning big nonetheless. I think today for the first time in the last 15 months, I heard myself think clearly.
This weekend has been on my mind for a few weeks now, as I surprisingly received a ticket to come to Chicago to watch the marathon. There were many reasons why I was dreading this weekend: awkward interaction with family that I haven’t seen in months, fear of being alone, fear of new places, fear of being lost, fear of something bad happening, etc. Well, I was right. All of these things did indeed happen, but interestingly enough, it was one of the best weekends I have had in a long time. Because I ended up spending 90% of my 48 hours in Chicago by myself, I was finally able to spend time reflecting on my thoughts.
For the first time in SO long, I got to do exactly what I wanted to do, which was simply nothing. All I’ve been wanting is to have a day where I can have zero plans. You know, those days we always take advantage of, where you can just go with the flow and not have to deal with the expectations of anyone or anything.
Today I woke up and looked out my window and saw one of the best views I have ever seen. The Chicago Tribune (beautiful, awesome building by the way) dead ahead, the river to the right, and everything seemingly quiet. Naturally, I took a long hot shower and took my time getting ready for the day. Then, I took off. At first I just planned to watch my parents run in the Chicago Marathon, but unfortunately I got lost about six or seven times. I found three coffee shops along the way, because you know you can NEVER be too caffeinated. I told myself that I would walk without my headphones in so that I could take in all the sounds of the city. I’m so glad that I made this decision because I could think and see everything SO clearly.
So after the chaos of the marathon and the crowds of 45,000 people from all over the world I ate some pasta, grabbed my wallet and went off again on my own. I stumbled upon an art museum and if you know me, you know my deep appreciation for art and culture. It was inside the Museum of Contemporary Art that I 1) saw some very strange and questionable exhibits and 2) found the peace and quiet I had been looking for. I think I had been waiting for a moment like this for my entire life. All dressed up only to impress myself, walking slowly and reading every detail because I had no where else to be, thinking but not saying anything, and appreciating every moment. There was an exhibit called WITNESS and inside were pictures of people doing what people do, just living life. In the back of the exhibit was a “piece” called The Sound of Silence.
So you know those dreams they show on TV where the person is walking in a completely white room- white walls, floors, ceilings- where it looks infinite. Well, this exhibit was that room. I mean it felt WEIRD. You walk inside and everything is pure white and you could probably hear a feather hit the floor it was so quiet. There was this GIANT box in the middle of the room that was blaring the most obnoxious bright light, but it was pleasant. It looked like those heavenly scenes where the light just draws you in. On the back side of the box was an entrance to the inside of the box where one by one people would enter to watch an 8 minute 34 second long video about a photographer who also designed this exhibit. Around 6 minutes through the video which was completely silent, a giant bright light flashes inside the box that probably would blind some people. However, for me in that moment I realized how quiet it really was. There were probably 15 people inside this giant white room, me being the only inside the box and yet it was completely silent.
I sat on a bench outside for a little while just thinking about it all and I noticed that my heart wasn’t beating. I mean of course it was beating, I was fully alive, but it wasn’t beating outside of my chest. I was thinking so clearly and there was zero panic inside of me. I heard every thought, every breath but I didn’t hear the anxiety running through me and blaring inside my heart. I was so calm. I grabbed my coat from the coat check, walked outside and down the many, many stairs and I looked back at the museum.
You know, I came into the weekend on a plane with a birds eye view and I thought a lot about perspective and about what I was really looking for in my life. Being a young adult is so hard and there is so much pressure to meet every expectation, but for the first time in as long as I can remember I think I was truly living for myself. After I left that exhibit I went and got lost in the city. My phone was on 1% so I was disconnected from the world. I just wandered and listened and stared at all the beautiful things around me. People from all over the planet, buildings that were so crazy and tall that it didn’t make any sense how they were standing through all the wind. Churches that were covered in ivy and moss and completely out of place. Little hidden gardens in between sky scrapers with pretty flowers and tea shops.
I think that we all need a little disconnected silence every now and again. Our fast paced culture makes us so giddy and ready for the next thing at all times, but do we really know our thoughts, feelings and emotions when we don’t take the time to process them? How can we truly hear ourselves think when we are always blaring music or waiting for the next best thing? Maybe the best thing is to just BE. Be still, be present.
So although this weekend is one that I had been nervous about for a while now, I am so grateful for the time I got to spend alone. For it reminded me how much alone time is necessary and how good it can be for the soul.