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Practicing What We Preach
  • Formation
  • Wellness
Kris Yee

In an era of mass consumerism and easy entertainment, how do we rest in such a way that rejuvenates us and leads us towards happiness and fulfillment rather than exhausting us further and leading us towards sloth and despair? 

This question not only inspired two days of programming for our most recent Upper School Retreat, but also informs how I try to live my life every day. 

At The Saint Constantine School, we believe in being for things, not merely against them. That said, one thing we are certainly against is the ubiquitous and overwhelming presence of the smart phone in contemporary life—not since the cigarette of the 1950s has a provably harmful technology so completely dominated American culture. Studies have shown that social media is harmful to self-image, that reading articles on our phones decreases our attention span, and that people in this age of “global connectivity” are lonelier and more miserable than ever. And yet, when our work or school days are done, the easiest thing for us to do is to turn our minds off and glue our eyes to a screen. We think this relaxes us. Reader, it does not. 

It is important that our students don’t just hear us rant against newfangled technology and how things were different “back in our day,” but that we also provide an alternative to the sort of rest the age of screens purports to provide. This is how we ended up with a retreat themed around hobbies. 

Do you remember hobbies? Humans have been busying themselves with projects and pursuits that had nothing to do with their jobs for years. Rather than collapsing into a puddle of consumption and malaise at the end of the day, we would weave things, build things, write things, do things. These activities engaged our minds, bodies, or both, and provided us with relaxation and stimulation simultaneously. Thus, we engaged in leisure and rest during our down time rather than sloth and gluttony.

It turns out that hobbies are fun! Our students had a blast spending a couple of days trying out fiber arts, juggling, poetry writing, cake decorating, photography, found art sculptures, boxing, wrestling, and dance, to name a few. They took to new hobbies immediately, and my hope is that they will rest better for it during the coming semester. 

But telling students about the way of life that seems best to us is easier than living that life ourselves. Too often, I find myself exhausted at the end of the day, and my appetites take control of my actions as I spend the entirety of my waking evening turning my brain off by watching sitcom episodes over and over again. Thus, this retreat was just as helpful to me as it was to my students—it was a reminder that I feel rested and rejuvenated after I’ve worked out, made a nice dinner, played guitar, or written some poetry, even when those things have felt difficult to do. Pursuing our hobbies and interests is an essential part of the flourishing human experience.  

A note to myself in the future: if you’re re-reading your own post on the faculty blog, maybe it’s time to put down your laptop and go make something. You’ll feel better—I promise.