In 1994, there was a movie released starring Matthew Broderick (only 7 years removed from having killed two people in a car accident, and was sentenced to pay a $175 fine) called The Road to Wellville, based on the T.C. Boyle book of the same name. Set at the turn of the 20th Century, the movie follows Broderick’s character William Lightbody and his wife Eleanor undergoing various treatments for mental illness at a sanitarium run by cereal magnate John Harvey Kellogg. They undergo a bizarre battery of treatments including but not limited to switching alcoholism for an opium addiction, colon cleansing, vegetarianism, abstinence, electrical shock, exercise, and masturbation. In the end, the Lightbodys leave, disillusioned with the idea that simply adhering to a few superficial adjustments can truly improve someone’s life.
In entirely unrelated news, it’s ASSU Executive Wellness Week, and I’m going to participate completely. That means attending all ten events and performing all 28 individual tasks. I invited ASSU Senator and Wellness Lover Zachary Warma to tag along on the quest to victory, and he, recognizing his own personal bitterness both with the Wellness and just in general gladly agreed to participate as well. As such, he will be in many of these photos and will be attending all the events with yours truly. I will track both his and my Wellnesses as the Wellness Week goes on.
For now, I’ll I have updates on the things we have done (with pictures by Chief Wellness Photographer Sylvie Greenberg!), and will continue until the conclusion of the Wellness Week.
Our Wellness Czars presumably do not believe anyone can attend their 12 or so hours worth of activities plus 28 things that are to be done separately. But as a Stanford student in the middle of midterm season, I see no better way to lighten my stress levels and feel Weller than to spend double digit hours this week doing every single ASSU Exec sponsored Wellness activity. They are listed more or less in the order I do them, starting with writing in my journal: this very blog post.
2. Give yourself a manicure or pedicure
After finagling my way into Haus Mitteleuropa to wake up and gather Sen. Warma this morning, it was off to Cindy’s Nail Salon right on El Camino next to a motel. This was my first pedicure ever, and it was as uncomfortable and bizarre as you’d think to have someone essentially sanding your foot for forty minutes or whatever it was. Either way, Wellness Week has put me (er, hopefully the Stanford Review will reimburse) out some money with its decidedly gender-specific Wellness activities. Also, one of the women who worked there was named Thao. Were the rest of the workers part of the Get Down Stay Down? Unclear.
Considering that I had to wake up Sen. Warma, and then took him on the most feminine task possible to start the day, and prevent him from working before the Super Bowl, his Wellness levels was not especially high. Though he was almost always scowling, he did appear to still be amused by the whole prospect of Wellness Week. Because he is bitter about the whole Week, every day I will compare his bitterness to a famous historical figure, as a point of reference. Today, I’m taking his suggestion of Aaron Burr, a man so bitter at his failed attempt to win the presidency that he killed Alexander Hamilton and tried to rule Mexico.
3. Find and tour the cactus garden
Somewhere right by the Stanford Shopping Mall, there are about a dozen cacti. I visited and petted them. That’s all.
4. Run around Lake Lagunita
5. Walk the dish
6. Smile at a stranger
I did this to a girl while walking from Lake Lag to the Dish. A friendly tip: do this one to a girl, because that way if you mess it up, at least she probably won’t punch you in the face.
7. Sleep for eight hours
Just about every night, but certainly every Saturday night. Anything less may just kill you.
8. Read the ASSU Health Blog
Though there hasn’t been an entry in nearly a month, I read them all. There are seven team members listed and five total posts. I’m not entirely sure that this was the most Well usage of my time. One post downeringly notes:
For some of us, it has been extremely difficult to develop sustainable, meaningful relationships with other students. Sharing in meaningful experiences, and sharing our feelings, often feels prohibitively uncomfortable.
For many of us, we try to find community through drinking, but any highs from alcohol are fleeting.
For some others of us, we don’t feel as though we’re learning from our education. Rather, we’re just passing tests and turning in assignments to earn a degree, to get a job, to make money, to retire, to finally do what we want to do sixty years from now when our knees are too bad to do it. It wouldn’t be very motivational if college were “the best years of our lives,” yet to feel so completely unmotivated is just as unfortunate. Our creative energies are being educated out of us, as classes teach us the “right ways” to enact change in the world, and funnel our inspiration into extremely specific specialties.
For some of us, we’re pursued by feelings of guilt when we aren’t embodying the hooray-Stanford-NSO-and-Admit-Weekend spirit. We worked hard to get the incredible opportunity to go to Stanford; it is difficult to be honest that it isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be to those who have placed so many expectations on us. It’s hard to tell our families that life is hard, and we even find ourselves feeling guilty if we ‘fess up to our friends on campus that we’re having a bad day.
I feel much more unWell, and the solution doesn’t entirely seem that conclusive:
Most of all, we’ll care for ourselves and for each other, physically and mentally. When presented with the choice between something we “should” do and something that will make us happy, we’ll go for the happiness. “Shoulds” are infinite, but happiness is beautiful because you have to be able to find it.
Why wasn’t I choosing happiness all along? Anyway, starting tomorrow I will.
9. Call someone you love
I called home to ask if I could come over to watch the Super Bowl. I was approved. That was Well!
10. Do something you love to help you de-stress
I watched this hilarious clip of a talking fox a few times.
11. Dance like nobody is watching
I did this while doing no. 12. Here’s roughly what it looked like:
12. Sing out loud to your favorite song
13. Talk to someone in your dorm you’ve never spoken to before. Learn about their hopes and dreams.
I actually did this, but it would be in poor taste to share any more than that.
That’s 13 tasks down, and 25 to go. What an unlucky number to start with! Will I complete the remaining 25 tasks? Will Senator Warma get fed up enough to pull a Preston Brooks on me? Will our moment of glory be ruined by a jealous competitor? Well (ha, ha), we’ll see.