One-credit seminars are like when you are on the phone with a distant family member and they start telling a story but you get bored halfway through so you just pretend to listen and sporadically say “ohhh” and “mhm”. They are both necessary for your end goal: a college degree or to wish your cousin a happy birthday, but are dreadful to endure and seemingly unnecessary. My seminar, however, became more than just a phone call that was taking too long and an easy-A when I came to the realization that there was actual insight I could gain if I took the class seriously.
A few months ago I enrolled in Philosophy of Freedom because I thought it would be a nice break from my technical-heavy science courses. It would invoke a part of my brain that is normally hidden away. Before I go any further, I would like to make it clear that I am not about to go all philosophical on you- that is a topic for a different article. Instead, I want to share a practice that my professor assigned to us on the first day of class. He challenged us to take a moment everyday when we wake up for a morning reverence. It’s only a quick fifteen to thirty seconds to allow ourselves to enter a state of mind that is open to accepting all experiences that come our way throughout the day. After the day is over and we are falling asleep, he asked us to watch our day in reverse as if it was a movie in rewind. The goal was for the reverse recall to be purely objective and not to pass judgement over our experiences.
I understand that this exercise sounds a little cooky, and it would have been easy for me to simply not do, but it sounded intriguing. There had to be some benefit to be gained by the exercise or he wouldn’t have assigned it. At first it was difficult to remember to do every morning and night, but it soon became part of my routine. Over time, I began to discern those benefits on my own. It has given me a better appreciation for my day-to-day life because I am more mindful of it. Throughout the day I will catch myself thinking, “Oh, I’ll remember that tonight when I’m going to sleep.” Small moments that would have otherwise been let go the moment they were experienced now have a greater importance. When I hear a joke and it makes me laugh or my roommates and I eat breakfast together, I am aware and appreciative of what I am living. Before, I was blind to my life until something significant happened. Now I am able to see all of my experiences, not just the important ones.
It’s a tall story to say my class that meets once a week over zoom is changing how I view life but it’s because I stopped viewing it simply as a requirement that I needed to get out of the way. Maybe we should all start listening to the story our cousin is telling us over the phone because it could be a good one.