The Yellow Pages

Life's questions completely unexplained


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Snowy Days and Changing Ways

Theme: Dealing with situations outside our control

The night before the first day of classes, everyone waited anxiously for the university’s decision to cancel or not. Some hoped for another day of freedom while other, nerdier, people like my self—prayed for classes to be held. Regardless of what they wished for, last Tuesday night more than one Brown student was staring at the sky, hoping to control the Snow.

Years ago, the second I heard the  words “Snow” and “Philly” slip from the TV screen in a Midwestern accent, under the pillow went a spoon, inside-out and backwards went my Pj’s, and into a “Snow Dance” went me.

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Snow days used to be a dream come true. That thrill of hearing school was cancelled fueled childhood fantasies. Mornings were for snow angels, afternoons for snowmen, and evenings for that final cup of hot chocolate. Bedtime came with exhaustion and dreams and hopes of the snow never melting.

Yet it always did.

At some point the snow days turned back into school days and the White Wonderland morphed into black slush that got on your shoes as the School Bus drove by. At this point, the Snow Dance became an outdated one-hit-wonder and I would wish for Spring.

Whether my fingers were crossed for the snow to fall or melt, I was putting all my energy into something in which I had no control. I mean, I’m sure I thought those spoons under my pillow and my backwards pajamas intensified the chance of a NorEaster hitting Philly, but efforts were surely wasted.

A much cuter me (left) on my first Snow Day223276_1056660943932_3667_n

Snow does not fall nor melt on command. No crossed fingers or kitchen utensils under pillows will ever change that. I’ve learned that there are some, more like many, things in life that we have absolutely. No. Control. Over.

That’s pretty scary.

But also kinda cool.

Perhaps we are in the driver’s seat, perhaps we control the steering wheel. We may control our speed and direction, but we are powerless towards if traffic hits or cows cross the road. We can decide to yell at the radio or honk at the heifers—but we have no control beyond our own state of mind.

For me this idea is freeing. I’m handing off some of the pressure and allowing the universe a share in writing the story of my life. I now give it permission to give me road-blocks, traffic, detours, and dead ends so I can learn to breathe behind the steering wheel.

I have no control over whether the snow falls or melts. I have no control over many things in life. I am learning everyday that this is not what makes life difficult, but what makes it fun.

Snowy days reflect our changing ways. This give us the opportunity to notice how we deal with the unknown. When the TV screen announced Snow in Midwestern accent we have the choice to either deepen our worry lines—or go make a Snowman.

– j

Unanswerable Question: What would life be like if we gave up control?

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Overcoming my ‘Rapunzel Complex’

Theme: Attachment

Right about now, my hair is getting a bit too long. It’s currently straddling the line between “kinda cool” and “pretty weird” and is dangerously close to the latter. I’ve been making excuses about getting it cut for a while now: ‘there are no Supercuts near school’ (lie), ‘it hasn’t reached my belly-button yet’ (half-lie), and ‘it’s winter and it keeps me warm’ (truth, but what?).

I have some strange attachment to my long hair: a self-diagnosed ‘Rapunzel Complex’.

Visual Symptoms:

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We can all admit it’s getting a bit ridiculous. So why don’t I get it cut? Because I’m attached. Like I mentioned before, I’ve formed an attachment to my long hair and am unwilling to face change. I’m comfortable with the way things currently are and am closed to what possibilities lie behind some shampoo and scissors.

The last time my Rapunzel Complex flared up was the summer before high school. I hid behind closed lipped smiles and a curly mane of hair in order to mask my fear of growing up. Yet after my soccer coach withheld my spot on the team until I got a hair cut (s/o to Danielle) and my braces came off, I let go of always having to be comfortable. 

Pre-high school model shots:

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To me attachment is the fear of letting go. It’s holding on so tightly your knuckles are blue and energy is waned. I find myself attached to things, ideas, places, and people when I  fear losing them. There seems to be a delicate balance between loving the moment  and wishing it would never end. I become attached to what I think will make me happy only to have it transform into what causes me the most pain (e.g. loving long hair, but hurting when its caught in the car door).

There’s peace in letting go. In accepting the impermanence of life. In letting your hands slip off the monkey bars, knowing that hitting the wood-chips will hurt less than holding on forever. In moving on. In cutting your hair. Buddhists speak of attachment as the greatest source of suffering, yet the origin of joy. My goal is to ‘carpe’ the ‘diem’ without crying when the sun sets.

And so, I am not about to claim my Rapunzel Complex is part of the past. But I am learning to cherish what I love about life without wishing for its immortality.

My first step is to go get my hair cut. A whole. Two. Inches.

– j

Unanswerable question: Where is the balance between ‘seizing the day’ and letting it go?

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