“What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.”

That’s a nice idea, I thought instantaneously as I scrolled to the next thing on my feed, not registering the words under my fingertips. My mind was in every place yet no place… that party last night, the subsequent gossip, the stats test on Monday… I yawned as my eyelids grew heavy. The rest of me was numb. I was disengaged from life and my motions were menial. I closed the app, looked around my dorm room weakly, and, almost without a thought, reopened the same app, refreshing the feed as if a new post from the past three seconds could entertain me out of oblivion. 

“What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.”

The same message blinked at me from my fluorescent phone screen. I blinked back. I don’t have time to stand and stare, I scoffed, ticking down my list of commitments. My social work and Spanish classes. The cross country and track team. Mellon Scholars. My off-campus job. And, most recently, I accepted the position as the student intern for the Press Pause campaign. Yup, I sleepily thought, submitting to my drooping eyelids, too busy for that nonsense. I drifted to sleep, allowing my brain to enter a withdrawn state. Yet, somehow, the message burned in my mind. 

“What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.”

A small part of the crowded and loud place that is my mind struggled against my endless thoughts for undivided attention. I tuned into its jeering. Hannah, it reminded me, press pause. With a start, I snapped awake, blushing at the irony of my own negligence to slow down when I myself am the one promoting Hope College’s wellness initiative. With this responsibility and privilege comes my personal commitment to slowing down enough to notice the choices I’m making, the relationships I’m building, the thought patterns I’m leading.

“What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.”

I permitted the line to consume my mind fully, mediating on its words and wondering what it might mean in the Press Pause campaign. It could seem self-indulgent to stand and stare in self-care. It might seem like a lost cause attempting to rewrite the social norms around drug and alcohol use. Awareness and personal wellness may seem frivolous when we have the stress of school and careers to attend to. Yet I opened the app again, this time allowing myself to read the entirety of the poem “Leisure” by William Henry Davies. As I read the final line, I was again struck by the urgency carried in these simple words. With conviction, I realized it’s time to drop the excuses and commit to a better way of living. 

“A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.”

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