Daycation & Lessons From Harvard

I need a one daycation from this life

Just one day to get my head on right

But I ain’t givin’ up

I’m gonna stay in the fight

I need a one daycation from this life

I need a one daycation from this life

Just one day to get my head on right

Michael Franti

Listening to the words of Michael Franti (and dancing, of course), I am struck by the constant reminders all around me to be mindful and “in the moment” wherever I am .  It’s easy to do in my kitchen on this Tuesday morning of my winter break from school.  I have had a day of adjusting to a new rhythm and we have not yet started packing for our upcoming trip and thinking about “what’s next” at school or at life is feeling distant this morning….it is easy to do in my kitchen.  Today.  Right now.  This is a sweet spot and I am a little in awe that I can recognize it.    

Franti is talking to himself as much as he is talking to me.  We don’t have the luxury to give up.  I don’t have the luxury to give up.  I don’t have the luxury of having Jesus take my wheel (that is a blog for another time; please don’t judge my judgy-ness of those who are able to give over everything to their faith) or the luxury of disengagement that some of my friends have learned to do with their now-almost-young-adult children (who, it is important to note, all survived adolescence).  Just one day is all Franti is asking for, one day to slow down and reconnect with himself and remember to feel the ground beneath his feet.  One day to reconnect with the woman he loves (because in music there is always a love story) and to stare at the stars.  One day to get his head on right, whatever that can mean.  

Clearly, the secret is in the moments and the recognition of them when they hit randomly or purposefully.  (Mine, by the way, has already moved along, replaced with the active pushing away of thoughts about school, life, teenagers and packing that does, in fact, need to get done). 

Researchers have examined how much time humans think about the past or plan for the future, referring to this as mental time travel.  In one Harvard study, they found that humans spend just over half of our waking time engaged in this mental time travel, which, they conclude, is not good.  I don’t know if I need a degree from Harvard to know that perseverating on the past or daydreaming about the future is detrimental to the present, but I am amused by the fact that they spent time researching it.  Of course, there are others (not at Harvard, but no less impressive given the many, many letters after their names) who took the examination even further and found that those who focused on the future were more optimistic than those who rehashed the past.  They noted that the importance of learning from the past is often eclipsed by the recognition that we are repeating it and not learning from it, which cycles one back to wondering what it is from our past that pulls us to constantly fail at living in the present. Okay, that wasn’t a part of the study, but it is definitely a part of my interpretation of the study.

So, what is the conclusion? What am I to learn from all of this?  Michael Franti is all of us and we need a solid balance, not just between thinking about the past and planning for the future, but living in the present.  None of this is revolutionary, but if the folks at Harvard felt a need to study it, then maybe I should spend a bit more time thinking about it. And, of course, more time dancing in the kitchen.


3 thoughts on “Daycation & Lessons From Harvard

  1. Interesting ideas! I wonder how much time I spend each day in the past and/or the future. I would love one of those extra days to just have time to figure everything out without other responsibilities!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Singing, dancing and some science in between. I enjoyed how you organised the slice. ‘Mental time travel” was a new term for me. My winter break will start tomorrow. I look forward to some days of doing nothing and just being. I hope your trip will bring you joy and energy.

    Liked by 1 person

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