Presence by Means of Distraction

I really liked the idea we discussed in class regarding youth’s mental wellbeing, especially given that for many of us college is coming to an end and we are getting ready to enter the “real world.” I really enjoyed how Professor Sakr spoke specifically about “future tripping” because it deeply resonated with me. I frequently get too caught up in worrying about the future to live actively and attentively in the present moment. I know that many of my friends experience this similar feeling of “future tripping.” Though a large number of us may have other causes that we find very important to talk about or to bring to others’ attention, I believe that focusing on youth’s mental wellbeing and “future tripping” is a cause that almost everyone around our university campus could identify with.

As I take my long walks through campus every day to get to my classes, I frequently find myself getting very zoned into my thoughts about the future and questioning what I will do post-graduation. I think that for many people, the deep mental spiral of “future tripping” occurs when they are alone with their thoughts, unstimulated by their computers and other electronic devices. Still, I believe that technology also prevents us from being present in the moment because we see people updating their statuses about which grad programs they got into, or we are always receiving emails which make us nervous as we anticipate a response or obsess over the next emails we need to be sending.

While the moments walking around campus are when many of us feel most alone with our thoughts and may thus begin to spiral into anxieties over the future, I also think that these moments of solitary contemplation are especially important to target because, by challenging the thoughts we have when we are alone in our minds, we have the potential to change our greater personal outlook on the world and our own lives. I also believe that it is precisely when we are alone with our minds that we are more likely to become present in our current moment if something, somehow, reminds us to do so. What gets me out of these internal freak-outs is when I see something that grabs my attention and plants me in my current moment, such as a big colorful sign placed in the middle of the lawn or people performing something that seems somewhat out of place. For this reason, I believe it would be especially powerful to do some performance piece on campus, in an unexpected place, or put up bright colorful signs in unexpected places reminding students to become more aware of their present moment, to live in it, and to not allow themselves to spiral into a “future trip.”

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