Reason #3: Get Out of Your Head
We get trapped sometimes, rationalizing actions. Sometimes the only way to fix it is by getting out of your own head, far, far away from things.
Like many other students, in 14 hours I had a 12 page paper due on business ethics. The wind howled through the cracks, slapping sleet onto the window. My Adderall guy lived seven blocks away. Dominick's, the grocery store I bought green spoiled butter from the week before, was only half a block from my dorm. Thus, I decided to try out a 4-pack of Red Bull for my study aid rather than acquire a nice shade of patched-red windburn to my face to get through this all-nighter.
Nine hours later, my would be A- paper waited to be printed as I laid in my bed, sinking deep into sand as my heart tried to push itself out from my chest, surely wanting to exact revenge by breaking each rib with every beat.
University can do that to you sometimes. Its this weird thing when you convince yourself that these asinine decisions are some how logical. Being young and healthy, you can take it. Your life revolves around these courses, these papers, these finals. You become a planet, stuck in the university’s orbit unable to break free from its gravitational pull. But it doesn't just happen with school, it happens with your college social life as well. And slowly or all the sudden, you begin to crave different smells and textures, but are continuously orbiting in this circular dance.
Then one day you see a flyer on the bulletin. “Volunteers wanted at the local animal shelter.” So you sign up for orientation, and make it your haven. At least, it became my temporary haven.
I found myself, sitting on a bus bench, outside my then-college boyfriend's apartment building, waiting for the #73 bus to take me to the shelter. Cherry blossoms scattered their petals, catching glimpses of the sun with the breeze. Two young blackbirds jumped from branch to branch squawking at each other. My throat was tight, shoulders hunched forward, as I stared at the key he had given me two weeks earlier, wondering if I should walk up to his door, and open it to confirm what I had already knew. My palms were sweaty.
Twenty minutes later, I walked a seven year old shepherd behind a warehouse dodging the green broken glass near the dumpsters. My forehead trickled. The temperature had risen 12 degrees in since boarding the bus. I leaned against the wall, my t-shirt snagging uneven cement ridges, twiddling the key in my pants pocket I had forgotten to put in the locker. There was no need to confirm my suspicions. I hyperventilated from my nose, trying not to ugly cry. Nala, that shepherd who would find her forever home in two months, jumped up, placing her paws on my chest, licking my face, whimpering, until I finally smiled at her antics. “Fine, Nala,” I said, “Extra long walks today.”
Those few hours a week were an escape, from my relationship, my classes, my writing, my family. It took awhile, but I found new textures and smells across the sea, no longer dating a guy who hated to travel, sitting on a Thai bus next to a Korean girl raised by a Jewish family in L.A., now living in Mexico with her Swiss boyfriend with stage 3 pancreatic cancer.
I was coming to the elephant sanctuary for the first time. This would be her third straight week here. She left for two nights to Bangkok to get pampered and out of the boonies of rural Thailand where we were heading to. It was her escape to come work with these creatures. Her boyfriend urged her. She was temporarily getting out of her head.