Dream For Tomorrow, Live For Today

dsay

By Jade Jacobs

From the moment a child is able to utter a coherent sentence, the question comes up. “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Wide eyed and mind reeling, we blurt the first thing that comes to mind. As we grow older, the questions never leave us. “What are you doing this weekend?” “Where do you see yourself in 5 to 10 years?” “What will your wedding be like?” These questions all share a common theme: they plan for a future that we aren’t guaranteed to have. By the time we are eighteen, we may be less bobble-headed and glassy-eyed than that three-year-old version of ourselves, but many of us are still far from being able to answer the question that has plagued us. Even now, seventeen years after first being asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I could have a different answer every day.

As a society, it has been so deeply ingrained in our psyche to set goals and make plans that we’ve forgotten what it means to live in the moment. We’ve forgotten what it means to appreciate those we surround ourselves with not for what they do for us, but simply because they’re here. We’ve forgotten what it means to wake up early not to get that workout in or clock in the extra hours, but to simply take in the sunrise. We’ve become so focused on who we’re going to be, that we’ve forgotten who we are.

I’ve come to realize that people bounce between two modes. We’re either planning, or we’re waiting for plans to happen. If someone isn’t planning a trip, then they’re counting down the days until they leave. If we aren’t planning what classes we’ll take, then we’re waiting for them to start (or waiting for them to end). This loop of monotony never ceases. We give ourselves the illusion of change by looking forward to a future that seems different from today, when all we do is fall into the same patterns over and over.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been taught that I need to think three moves ahead of the next action I’ll be taking. There will always be the next step that needs a path to follow or the next set of doors where only one can be opened. I’ve spent most of my years thinking about where each path would lead, or what is on the other side of each door, that I forget to see what trees line the paths or what colors the doors are painted. Time that I can’t get back was spent worrying about where I need to be tomorrow and not enough of it was used to enjoy where I am right now.

However, there are moments that make me think by pulling me out of this uncertain future and immersing me in the present. My favorites of these moments are cold sand sifting through my toes, the Milky Way stretched out across the sky, a million lights mirrored on the waves, and the moon, orange as if aflame, climbing high or laying to rest on the horizon. We need to take in these small moments and realize that they are much bigger than they seem. It’s the times we take for granted that we so dearly wish to return to. Don’t let today be just another grain of sand in the hour glass. To reach your dreams tomorrow, you first have to let yourself dream them up today.

The Squirrels, The Myths, The Legends

 

Squirrel
Photo from the Pensacola News Journal

By Jade Jacobs

For years, there has been lore on the University of West Florida campus regarding the existence of rare albino squirrels residing between the Information Technology building (79) and Math/Engineering building (4). Many students have their own theories about why the squirrels are here or what their purpose is among us. Although up to two have been seen at the same time, no one knows if there are more out there. A sighting of even one albino squirrel is said to alter a person’s mind and enlighten them to a bit more of life’s grand story. In hopes of gaining more insight to the mysteries of these aloof animals, students were asked to share their beliefs and myths about these legendary squirrels. These are their stories.

Long ago, the 6 colleges educated students as a university; then, everything changed when the funding arrived. Only the albino squirrel, master of all 6 disciplines, could divide funds. But when UWF needed him most, he vanished. Years passed until students discovered new albino squirrels living near building 4. Although the squirrels’ finance skills are great, they have a lot to learn before they’re ready to give any money. But I believe, they can save UWF.” – Albino squirrel advocate.

The white squirrel is a vengeful demon whose physical body was used in a ritual on UWF campus. He now roams the grounds looking for the people that caused his transformation in an attempt to repay them for their kindness.” – Jerrad H.

He’s an international squirrel from Antarctica here to study human behavior” – A friend from afar.

Not only are there rumors as to how the squirrels came to call UWF home, but mystery also surrounds exactly where the squirrels live on campus.

I heard it’s responsible for the weird missing reports on the nature trail.” – Patrick L.

It has been said that if you rub its head 3 times and scream ‘Yahtzee!’, class grades will improve miraculously.” – A believer.

Seeing him is an omen that you’ll make an A on your next test” – Brianna M.

Even further speculation has gone into why the squirrels have their prominent color in the fur-st place.

Supposedly, he jumped into a highly chlorinated pool. Some humans think it’s a ghost, but it’s far from dead.” – Anthony N.

The albino squirrel is the embodiment of unfulfilled wishes and dreams of all college students. That’s why it lacks color, with inadequacy and disappointment comes loss of wonder.” – A student in search of hope.

He was caught in a hurricane and the salt from the sea water turned his fur white.” – Jamar G.

Some students are firm believers in the existence and powers of the albino squirrels, while others just think it’s a tall, fluffy tale. Though it’s true that there is no conclusive evidence to back up these reports, the fantasy alone is enough to keep the dream alive. Whether you choose to believe these accounts is up to you. However, one thing is for certain: the imagination of college students knows no bounds in cases where oddly pigmented animals come into play.

Towards Change

20160924_162156
Photo by Jade Jacobs

By Jade Jacobs

I know where I am, because I’ve seen where I’ve been. Although I’m not sure where I’m going, I know I won’t be back again. The past has snares that bind, and the future’s high beams blind, yet I leave footprints behind me as I move forward towards change.

The path I’m walking is far from straight. Some stretches have holes hiding as they await an unobservant foot. My gait becomes awkward when I wade within the water, waist deep, wishing to wash me away. The undertow shifts underfoot and undermines the purchase put beneath my own weight. The surface of this cypress swamp sits still. The mossy haze mocks me as a woven wood of roots wind the path into a maze. Still, I move forward towards change.

Occasionally the sun beats down, providing my head a glistening crown and sheaths my body in a crimson cloak. Each step another hot coal stoked. The arid climate a threat to choke me of the breath I hold so dear. Mirages taunt of oasis near but sand sweeps, serpentine, and swirls to sear my sight. Still, I move forward towards change.

Clouds converge to cover the sky, while lightening crackles and creatures cry curses to the storm that soaks them and soils their shelters. The path becomes soggy and seeps to my bones. There’s no place to dry in and no hearth to make warm. Yet frogs plop into puddles and worms rise from the earth. Unbothered by the torrential pour, they spring forward to embrace the storm, and I move forward towards change.

When darkness falls on an open sky, the stars glisten and remind me why I march on. For just as they sail through celestial seas, I too feel a burning need to strive for whatever lies beyond what can be seen. Through the cosmos waltz flaming ships that never settle, but take their risks so every petal blooms into constellation. Thus, we all move forward towards change.

Meditation and Chi: The Energy Force That Connects Us

CHI

By Jade Jacobs

“You are not a drop in the ocean, you are an entire ocean in a drop.” ~Rumi

At the core of every major religion and spiritual belief system lies the practice of meditation. When we look deeper, we see that meditation is defined as “the disclosure of considered thoughts on a subject” or “spending time in quiet thought,” and we can see how meditation truly is the center of religious practices. In this case prayer, philosophical questioning, and 2 a.m. discussions about our purpose in the world are all considered variations of meditation. Today, meditation, along with other ancient practices, is most commonly associated with the Eastern Hemisphere. However, centering exercises, such as meditation, are more than their typical portrayal of a way to connect spiritually to a deity; they allow us to focus our energy inward on our own personal well-being. In modern society, we tend to become so fixated on work, classes, and other obligations that we forget to allocate time to work on ourselves.

A notion that I personally believe in is that each of us are connected. Whether you follow a more faith- or strictly science-based outlook on the world, both tell us that the energy in our universe has been here from the beginning. None is added, and none truly leaves. Energy flows through the system in a cyclical fashion. Our bodies and belongings return their energy to the earth and are reborn in new forms of life. Our life energy flows on as well, whether to an afterlife, reincarnated, or with our bodies back into nature. This energy connects each of us to one another similarly like how the roots of a rain forest intertwine to connect each tree, each branch, and each leaf. The energy flows through the forest providing life, and it connects each of us as well.

Just as the energy connects us to one another, it flows within each person individually. An ancient belief is that the human body harbors seven chakras, or pools of life energy called chi. Each chakra is connected to a different element, and is governed and blocked by a different trait. To help restore peace to the body, mind, and soul, the chakras must be unblocked in order from bottom to top, similar to how river dams are opened and water is allowed to flow.

The first chakra is the root chakra located at the base of the spine, and is connected to the element of earth. It’s governed by survival, and is blocked by fear. Meditating on this chakra teaches us to realize our fears, and accept them so they no longer control or burden us. The chi flows into this chakra from the sacral chakra located in the lower abdomen. This chakra is connected to water, governed by pleasure, and blocked by guilt. Meditating on the sacral chakra opens the mind to the guilt that weighs us down to teach us that negative things happen, but dwelling on negativity only clouds our judgement of the present. The chi flows to this chakra from the third chakra in the solar plexus, located just below the ribcage. This chakra is connected to fire, is governed by will power, and is blocked by shame. Meditating on the fire chakra allows us to continue from the previous chakra and let go of the negativity that plagues us. The shame blocking the fire chakra is often tied to the guilt of the previous; both must be left in the past to cleanse these chakras.

Unblocking the lower chakras allows for us to move into the upper chakras, starting in the heart. This chakra is connected to air, is governed by love, and blocked by grief. Harboring grief locks the chakra and mind from expressing emotions clearly, and can lead to internal strife. In Chinese medicine, common psychological disorders, such as depression and anxiety, can occasionally be attributed to a blocked air chakra. Disorders are said to be due to the tension and pressure of the chi pooling within the air chakra which renders the body unable to properly handle the complex emotions. Furthermore, if cleared, the throat chakra, connected to sound, allows us to open the pathway of truth that is blocked by lies. The lies blocking this chakra are often the ones we tell ourselves, ones that keep us from fully realizing and accepting who we are. Our throat chakras are commonly blocked, and are especially difficult to cleanse. In a society that instills constant pressure of who you should be, it is difficult to accept who you truly are. However, acceptance and elevated self-identity leads to cleansing the following chakra: the third eye. Located between the brows, the third eye chakra is connected to light, governed by insight, and blocked by illusions. Throughout time, one of society’s greatest illusions is that of division. As stated previously, everything is connected through the chi it possesses. To unblock the third eye chakra, we must let go of divisiveness, and realize that there is no “us” or “them.” We are all only parts of one whole energy force. The seventh and final chakra is the crown chakra, located just above the head. It is governed by pure cosmic energy and blocked by attachment. Few people are able to see past the material world to connect directly to the chi that comprises life as a whole. We become so attached to the objects, emotions, and people around us that how completely connected we all are becomes difficult to see, and to accept.

We are all connected to each other, and to life as a whole, through a web of chi that flows incessantly through time and space. Like leaves in a great rain forest, we breathe as one. Meditation and centering practices aren’t attached to a specific religion or culture, they’re exercises that allow us to tap into this chi to let it flow freely through us. It is a way for us to connect to ourselves and others through the chi we borrow during our lifetime.

University Rhapsody: A Four Year Journey

Fotor_148894242483259
Photo by Jade Jacobs

By Jade Jacobs

Do you ever wonder if the life you’re living is real or just a fantasy, a figment of the imagination? Sometimes we feel like the stress just gets to be too much and we get caught in a landslide with no escape from the reality of what we’ve gotten ourselves into. Then when the weather’s nice we’ll take a break, maybe go out to the beach to open our eyes, look up to the sky and see clarity. We’re just college students, and we need no sympathy because days are easy come, easy go and grades are a little high, little low. We just flow with how the semester goes and anyway the wind blows.

When life gets to be too much, we call up our moms and tell her how we kill our motivation by how much of a crapshoot it is with how much we’ll actually get done by the time it’s due. When we got to college, we felt like our life had just begun, but now we’ve gone and thrown it all away by trying to “grow up” too quickly. We don’t want to make her cry along with us but let her know that if we don’t call again tomorrow to carry on as if nothing really matters.

It’s too late to go back now. Stress sends shivers down our spines and without sleep our bodies ache all the time. Some days we tell everyone goodbye so we can go face the truth of how much work we’ve gotten ourselves into. Even if we joke about it, we don’t want to die, but sometimes we wish we had never been born at all. Sometimes we see a little silhouette of our stress and just want to act like Scaramouche and to frolic about and do the Fandango. Other times, deadlines and exams loom eerily like thunderbolts and lightning that frighten us. We receive exam scores and wonder if we’ll ever reach the greatness of Galileo or be able to scheme like Figaro. Will we ever be magnifico?

We’re just poor college students and sometimes we feel like nobody loves us. We’re just poor students from poor families. We wish there was a way to spare us this life from this university! Too often our mental health is easy come easy go… Will anxiety every let us go? We pray, “Bismillah.” No, It will not let us go and often time it feels like Beelzebub has a devil put aside for each of us. Trying to keep our GPA up feels like we’re being stoned and spit in the eye. It seems social groups are just here to love us and leave us to die. By the time senior year comes and goes, we can’t do this anymore and just have to get out, just have to graduate from here.

Then the college years are over. We look back and see that all the stress over our grades, social groups, and resume builders doesn’t really matter. Anyone can see now that it never really mattered in the long run. We move on with our life, anyway the wind blows.
( fin )

Words Not Spoken

wns-pic

By Jade Jacobs

Stolen glances, racing heart, and the desire to speak but how do you start? How do you spark a conversation when your heart’s full of elation, and there’s such a strong temptation that the words don’t leave your throat? Sweet desire fueled by fire, that draws you in, but not again. The heart may have forgiven yet the brain has not forgotten what it means to succumb to this feeling that leaves you numb and reeling.

You opened up once before, but they purged the pictures of personality, skewed what was reality, falsified hospitality, and left you in catastrophe. They changed the locks on all the doors until your heart was no longer yours. Months passed before you decided to move out of the poisoned place that had been so familiar, but turned foreign floor by floor. Months still before the barren walls of a heart bereft began to bedeck themselves with recollections worthy of reminiscence.

Finally, you settle in, and then a stranger comes again just waltzing in and makes you feel a whim of something you figured you wouldn’t have anymore. Maybe they could be the one to make your light shine bright again, help you learn to fly again, so you forget what made you cry again. If you let the craving go could the confidence begin to show you what you’ve known all along? Another glance, it’s a risk but it’s a chance worth taking for a heart afraid of breaking will let thorns blind them from seeing the beauty of the rose. But how do you spark a conversation when your heart’s full of elation, and there’s such a strong temptation that the words don’t leave your throat?