“Junk Food For The Spirit”

One question that I constantly ask myself is, “Why am I here? Why am I here at the University of Michigan?” It’s safe to say that this question hits home to many students here. I sometimes wish I was one of the few that has had their mind set on what they want to pursue. “Wait a minute, read that sentence you just wrote again,” my father would say. “Slow down you crazy child” (he’s a huge Billy Joel fan), you don’t need to know what you’re going to do with your life just yet, you’re a month old freshman.” It’s easy enough to stress about the future, but it’s also important to live in the present. Look at that, a month in and I’m already getting ahead of myself.

If you didn’t know me that well, it’d be easy to assume that I’m here in Ann Arbor simply for leisure. I came here for the infamous football Saturdays, for being able to socialize with people from around the world, for forming close friendships through a fraternity and eating an unhealthy amount of Pizza House. Yet if you knew me better, you’d know that I’m not here simply for gaining the ideal college experience, one filled with the aforementioned as well as joining clubs and playing on intramural teams. Let me put things in simpler terms – it’s kind of like when I go to Five Guys.

My essential purpose is to have a satisfying hamburger, yet the french fries, peanuts and soda make the meal that much better. These extra activities are, similarly, complements of going to this amazing school. I applied and accepted my offer to study here at the University of Michigan in order to eventually graduate and make a difference in the world. Whether that difference be for the general public or for myself, the drive to be a successful human being is why I am studying here in Ann Arbor.

Being a student at the University of Michigan is a big time commitment, to say the least. From attending classes five days a week, to being involved with several clubs, to spending time with my greek life peers, to studying hours on end, to finally sleeping takes up all 24 hours of each day. The most important part, of course, is studying, which is required in any spare time I can find in order to keep up with the workload that oh so perfectly lives up to the recently named #1 public university in the U.S. – GO BLUE! Yet, it is that perfect amount of work that causes endless amounts of stress for students like myself globally. Countless hours of studying and participating in extra-curriculars are done in order to achieve a higher dream, one that requires myself to push my mind and body to the limit and beyond in order to triumph. However, in order to achieve this success in the future, I must do well with my studies in the present, which can be very difficult to achieve without the utterly necessary sport and holiday, an idea brought about in A. Bartlett Giamatti’s Take Time For Paradise.

Participating in sports, whether it be team or individual, and spending holidays with family and friends are both activities thats internal significance will always outweigh the external. Whether it be a team sport like baseball where winning together will always be an indescribable feeling full of loud and joyous screams, or playing golf where success is celebrated in almost complete silence, the acts of playing sports bring about absolute contentment.

Additionally, when sports are enjoyed with my family, whether it be casually throwing a football on a grassy field, hitting a tennis ball back and forth at the neighborhood park, or my family cheering me on from the sidelines, enjoyment is attained and the mind can be drifted away from the strenuous work life. It is sports that allow me to relieve the mind of strain and discomfort that is brought about by long periods of time of continuous work. Work that in the moment can sometimes seem so unnecessary, oftentimes having less importance than a game of catch with my brother. It is this simple game of catch that seems like it has more real value than work because happiness is where meaning lies, and happiness is hard to find when work is difficult. Therefore, I must force myself to internalize this, and in the meantime I must think about why I am doing all of this “unnecessary” work and the sole reason that I am doing it for.

Like Giamatti states, participating in “recreation is re-creation.” A re-creation, a re-vitalizing, a re-freshing rush to my mind, one that has probably been used more than what it was made for, because in order to succeed in the modern day this overuse has developed to be the new norm. Thus, the combination of sport and holiday is the most natural form of “drug [made to] divert [people] from real problems.” Distracting myself from work is the only real way I have been able to return to it after a break and be able to find the energy necessary to do my work efficiently. It is up to each and every one of us to find our own definitions of sport and holiday. I leave this up to you all as your “junk food for the spirit” is probably different than mine, and different than Giamatti’s. We may both be fans of Five Guys, but only you can find the right balance of work to sport and holiday for your own definition of success and thus discover why you are attending the University of Michigan.

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One comment

  1. prvalera · October 13, 2014

    I completely agree with your opinion that as students we need to “live in the present”. There are so many pressures of planning ahead and deciding your major. Whether you want to be pre-med, pre-law, pre-business, or any of the other numerous majors that the University of Michigan has to offer, the stress and anxiety levels are always increasing. We just started college and we’re already expected to know what we want to do with our lives. The academic competition has increased tenfold, and any kind of extracurricular activity is a much needed break. Sports are a great way to relieve stress and just have fun.
    Your analogy, comparing a meal at Five Guys to the college experience, was spot on. College is not only about studying and grades, it is also about the clubs you join, the friends you make, and the food (mostly pizza and ramen) that you eat. Each student’s college experience will be different and shaped by their decisions. Although I understand that our future in the working world is not far off, we do not want to work all the time. As students, we should be able to enjoy our college experience to the fullest, without letting our grades slip, of course. As you stated, “…only you can find the right balance of work to sport and holiday for your own definition of success and thus discover why you are attending the University of Michigan”. This balance between studying and leisure is needed in order for students to succeed.

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