Discipline.

I am afflicted—as Elizabeth Gilbert might say—with the “monkey mind.” And it’s (sort of) a problem. Conversations with me might easily span from Senegal to Israel to Sri Lanka, that trip I just took to Argentina or my fascination with country lyrics. One of my friends once put it this way: “Inesha, you’re a whirlwind.” Which is probably a nicer way of putting it. What she really meant is that I am a completely organized mess and the biggest walking oxymoron around (and here I might emphasize that last part a bit more :)

And then I got to college. The options, the choices, oh the things to do. I was a whirlwind surrounded by a whirlwind and it was fascinating, exciting, exhilarating. It was also overwhelming. In high school I was that kid who had a whole lot going on. But in high school I was also that kid who was so incredibly blessed to have a mother and father who would set her straight—who would, you know, make sure she ate, slept, exercised. I was fortunate to have close friends who demanded my attention, who sketched their way into my heart just as much as they did onto my ridiculously color-coded calendar. I had classmates and teachers who had known me for years, who got “Inesha” and knew the importance of letting her go just as much as reigning her in. And I had two sisters who dealt with me through thick and thin, who reminded me of what was really important.

But when I got to college that all went out the window and at the risk of exposing my serious nerd status, let me just say that the concept of living at my school was one that I positively, absolutely loved. And diligent student of the world that I am, I got to making my lists and calendars. I got to planning. The multitude of options were not a deterrent; they were the excitement. I loved that I could go off and have a conversation at 7 in the morning with a dining hall worker then head to class, exercise in the middle of the day, take a digital arts workshop and attend a speaker series to boot—all in a day’s work before heading off to do that homework, of course.

A year later, I’ve gotten a little more perspective. You see, you could completely whereswaldo (here I must indulge you with a verb my high school math teacher used to use which in class often translated to plugging in numbers randomly and in life often means just going about things without clearly every marking out your objective) college but I’m not sure that you would get anything out of it. The ability to know a little about a lot is great, but the ability to stand still is one that in this crazy spinning world with chrome tabs and sticky notes is incredibly desireable and one that I suspect is acquired most often with age but perhaps too with intention.

My internship in DC hasn’t exactly meant that I’ve escaped from a whirlwind of people and things, new happenings and crises. This is the nation’s capital after all. But each day, when I chart out my day I try and keep in mind the big picture– the world outside the reactive work environment I live in. It’s not always easy but if I have a quest these four months, it’s in search of that one word: discipline. 

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