September 30, 2022 | CULTURE | By Phoebe Dodge
Block Break is one of the most exciting parts of going to CC. With all the opportunities and places to go, it’s definitely one of the parts that drew me in.
The four or often five days off from school nicely balance the intensity of the Block Plan. But what happens when you can’t get time off from work?
CC is not built around the schedules of working students, especially for those with jobs off campus, and many professors don’t even consider jobs when creating their syllabi. Working a job cuts down the time that can be spent on homework and can wholly prevent you from hanging out with friends or taking advantage of Colorado, which can feel isolating when so much of the student body doesn’t have the same scheduling constraints.
Missing out on Block Break, on top of all that, can feel like a real hit. Often all your friends leave, and you’re left to entertain yourself when you’re not at work.
But within this disappointment lies a hidden gift.
The importance of solitude is understated today. I’ve met so many students at CC that mention that they struggle to comfortably spend time alone and I definitely used to feel it myself, but there’s so much value in learning how to be present and content in your circumstances.
This idea is found in religions and philosophies thousands of years old, especially eastern ones. The center principle is attention. Meditating is one simple way to practice being present.
Being connected and mindful is the idea that one must accept that which they cannot control. It’s the philosophy of Alcoholics Anonymous, so clearly it holds some weight. It takes much time and effort but working to see the good in a situation that cannot go the way you had planned can help.
With these ideas in mind, here are a few ways to make meaningful use of your alone time during a block break stuck in the Springs.
There’s the basics, like going on a hike or going on a bike ride (or a Pike Ride, which all CC students get for 90 minutes free daily).
Another idea is journaling. Journaling is a helpful way to make sense of your life. Writing down your feelings and ideas can help you make sense of them by aiding in the process of organizing them in a place you can revisit and reconsider.
Although the weather this Block Break was a bit depressing at first, by the end it cleared up, allowing for lots of time to be spent outside. One way to enjoy that time could be buying a field guide and identifying plants and animals before it gets too cold. It’s nice to get to know the environment you live in. If you don’t have a car, you could go down to the parks along the Tiger Trail or walk around the Old North End.
You could also spend time mind-wandering. In an interview for the New York Times’ “Ezra Klein Show” podcast, author and attention researcher Johann Hari states, “mind-wandering is a crucial form of attention. Mind-wandering is when you process things that have happened in the past, it’s when you anticipate the future, it’s when you make connections between things you’ve experienced.” Hari argues that we don’t do enough mind-wandering today. So, consider going on a walk (without earbuds, which is also good for safety) or lounging out enjoying the sun and mind-wandering.
I enjoy sitting outside and writing poetry, which often ends up being about Pikes Peak. If you aren’t into writing poetry, you could read poetry.
If you’re not into poetry at all, try reading a book. The Block Plan is so busy I rarely feel that I have time to sit down and read, so Block Break is a good time to accomplish that goal. If you don’t have any books you are interested in, or want to check out some new poetry, head to Tutt Library or walk downtown to the Penrose Branch City Library on Cascade Ave.
All CC students can get free library cards there if you bring your CC housing and mailing address.
Another way to spend time downtown is to window shop, or really shop, or get a meal at some local businesses. Don’t let downtown turn into the commercial nightmare that is Northern Colorado Springs!
Maybe it would be a good time to invest in some personal interests. Maybe listen to a new album you haven’t had time for, practice a musical instrument, or make your own mini research project. I spent a lot of my Block Break learning and practicing tarot reading; maybe get a new spiritual interest like that.
There are a million other ways you could make the most of your solitude but hopefully this is a good place to start. Enjoy your Block Break alone!