Sunday, February 27, 2011

Stop, Breathe, and Take a Break

Hello everyone!  I hope you all had a wonderful weekend.  This past week I was stressed-out.  Mid-terms and graduate-school applications had me pulling my hair.  Have you also been stressed-out lately? Well, maybe this poem, “How to Leave the World that Worships should” by Ros Barber, will help. 

How to Leave the World that Worships should by Ros Barber

Let faxes butter-curl on dusty shelves.
Let junkmail build its castles in the hush
of other people’s halls. Let deadlines burst
and flash like glorious fireworks somewhere else.
As hours go softly by, let others curse
the roads where distant drivers queue like sheep.
Let e-mails fly like panicked, tiny birds.
Let phones, unanswered, ring themselves to sleep.

Above, the sky unrolls its telegram,
immense and wordless, simply understood:
you’ve made your mark like birdtracks in the sand -
now make the air in your lungs your livelihood.
See how each wave arrives at last to heave
itself upon the beach and vanish. Breathe.

I hope you enjoyed the poem.  Here is what I believe Barber has to tell us:

Sometimes our lives become hectic.  We have numerous tasks to complete in little time.  We throw up our hands and scream, “Give me a break!”  However, our oversized-to-do lists tell us that we have no time for breaks.  Thus, we suck it up and keep on working, only to crash later down the road.   

But Barber tells us that when our tasks become plenty, we should stop, breathe, and take a break; for not doing so causes us to become stressed and prohibits us from doing our best.    

Therefore, when our tasks get out of hand, we must remember to take a break.  In addition, we must remember to actually enjoy our break and not worry about our tasks.  (Worrying about our tasks will not get them completed.  They will still be waiting for us once we return.  Thus, it’s ok for us to forget about them for a while.)  After our break, we will be able to return to our tasks with alertness and enthusiasm.      

So while you’re writing your 20-page paper for class, finishing a memo for work, or constructing the guest-list to your wedding, remember to stop, breathe, and take a break!  You will get your tasks completed.  Trust me, you will.  BUT! Don’t take a break for too long (I know, there’s always some catch isn’t it?).  Remember that our tasks can’t complete themselves (although if they could, that would be awesome).  Sadly, we are still the only ones who can finish them.


  1. Chelsea, this is a really nice poem, and I like what you have to say about it. Especially as a Duke student, it is so easy to get overwhelmed by the million things on our plate, or frustrated when we feel like others are more on top of their work than we are. I think it's extremely important to stop, take a deep breath, and make sure that we allow some time for ourselves. I'm taking yoga this semester and have found it to be a huge help in this regard. Great poem! I look forward to reading more.

  2. Chelsea,
    My favorite thing about your blog is the variety of poem and poets. I was happen to see some works that I wasn't familiar with. You could just have easily thrown up poems we're all forced to analyze in school. (Not that something like "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock isn't worthy of being analyzed here). Great work on your blog and good luck finishing up strong.
    - Britt

  3. Chelsea,

    I enjoyed reading this poem, it reminded me of something that a yoga instructor would say at the end of class during the relaxation period. I liked how you picked a poem that other Duke students can easily relate to. I think it would be interesting if you added some questions to think about at the end of your posts, so your readers are stimulated into thinking about the poem's meaning for themselves (rather than just reading your interpretation.)


  4. Hey Chelsea,

    I agree with Ellen here and think you did a nice job using a poem. I know this comment will only be for this post, but I think you have done well throughout your blogging in choosing various poems for different reasons. They seem to work well with what it is you are explaining. I also really like the concept of life lessons. Too many times I think people, especially Duke Students, get caught up in the hustle of everyday life, and don't think about the big picture. You do a good job in reminding everyone that its good every now and again to take a step aside and think about what really matters!

  5. Hey Chelsea,
    I really enjoyed the poem that you selected for this blog post, because like Ellen said, as a Duke student there are just those days or several days rather that you just feel completely overwhelmed. I have even walked in on one of my friends just having a mental breakdown, but was able to force her to go to the gym/spin class with me. Afterwards, I could tell that the break from work was exactly what she needed. But just as you mentioned you need a break and to breathe, but not for long. I feel that in Barber's poem, however, he just seems to say just completely let hours go by and relax...but we know that in most can relax but not for long.

    I love reading your posts, as well, since you begin by addressing us the reader. It is like you are connecting with us immediately and I really enjoy that aspect of your blog.

  6. Chelsea,

    I'd like to echo what Britt said - I love the variety in your post. It really allows the reader a little window into your life because of its transparency. It seems like you were really stressed out and reading this poem and writing this post made you feel better.

    Even though the subject matter varies alot, your voice stays constant throughout, making the reader feel comfortable.

  7. Hey, this analysis was quite easy to understand but can you explain the details and the language like similes, metaphors, rhymes and their effects on the reader? I cant understand them but I need to do it for my GCSE! Thankyou