Sanctuary

Saturdays offer a strange kind of sanctuary, especially for graduate students, for whom the notion of a weekend can be rather alien (though not entirely unnecessary). There’s the promise of rest, of course, of sleeping in, a late brunch, doing not much else for the rest of the morning and most of the afternoon too. More than that, there is the chance to step back from the world, to stand one apart from everything that you’ve done and that has happened over the course of the week. This does not mean that you do nothing, that you spend the day asleep or in a haze, letting the day pass you by in a blur. No, carpe diem applies just as well to Saturdays, but in a different way.

There is the brunch, by yourself, at home or at a cafe. Your plate and your coffee take up part of the table, but the rest is taken up by a book. It’s a book of fiction, or maybe non-fiction written as fiction, blurring the lines between the two by being, in some parts, completely unbelievable. The table, the plate and the surroundings create a sanctuary for you and your book. They’re a sign to the world that you’re a part of it, somewhat, but that the rest of you is away — wandering somewhere in the world of the book in front of you. You’re consuming, but gently, both the food and the book. But in the same breath, you’re also creating. You read of Paris, and men and women, and the often tender, sometimes cruel things they do to each other, and as you do you can’t help but construct those scenes, those places, those dialogues in your mind, in a slightly different way from everyone else who’s read that same book.

And when you’re done, it’s late, or at least, later. It’s past noon, perhaps, you’re slow and sluggish, but that’s ok. Saturday is also a sanctuary for the weary. And as you’re lying in bed (or couch, or hammock) and drifting off to sleep, you realize something about the nature of life, and days, and work. In many ways, the world works in cycles, in ebbs and flows, in alternating bursts. And perhaps, when we speak of balance, we’re not really talking about balancing everything at every moment. That only works for food, and even then, not always. No, maybe what we’re talking about is balance spread across time and space. What we’re talking about is learning to live and work with the ebb and flow, to play with the pulses, and ride the highs and lows instead of trying to flatten them out to a smooth, but dull plain. The sanctuary is meaningless without the perilous journey and the wearying voyage. And when we look to live our lives, perhaps we should not treat one to be welcomed and the other to be avoided, but rather we should embrace both, in due measure, at different times.

Saturday is only meaningful in contrast to the week that came before (and the one that will come after). 

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