Photo by Steph Cowling
Self Care Practice Day 26 of 30: A Day Away
Over a year ago I read a short essay from Maya Angelou entitled “A Day Away” in her book Wouldn’t Take Nothing For My Journey Now. It inspired me to start a self care practice of setting aside one day a month where I don’t plan anything, set the space to be in sacred solitude, and allow my intuition to guide my actions.
Some days I found myself walking through Prospect Park, listening to Nina Simone and savoring the slow breeze of the wind; other days I read the New York Times sipped a latte and dropped myself into the flow of a Brooklyn cafe; and still other days I enjoyed a beer at a local bar, stared at clouds and listened to the blues.
Out of deep respect for Dr. Angelou and her work, I want to share this essay. My hope is that it inspires you, perhaps not to take a day each month, but to consider at least annually to gift yourself one day away.
“A Day Away”
By Maya Angelou
We often think that our affairs, great or small, must be tended continuously and in detail, or our world will disintegrate, and we will lose our places in the universe. That is not true, or if it is true, then our situations were so temporary that they would have collapsed anyway.
Once a year or so I give myself a day away. On the eve of my day of absence, I begin to unwrap the bonds, which hold me in harness. I inform housemates, my family and close friends that I will not be reachable for twenty-four hours; then I disengage the telephone. I turn the radio dial to an all-music station, preferably one, which plays the soothing golden oldies. I sit for at least an hour in a very hot tub; then I lay out my clothes in preparation for my morning escape, and knowing that nothing will disturb me, I sleep the sleep of the just.
On the morning I wake naturally, for I will have set no clock, nor informed by body timepiece when it should alarm. I dress in comfortable shoes and casual clothes and leave my house going no place. If I am living in a city, I wander streets, window-shop, or gaze at buildings. I enter and leave public parks, libraries, the lobbies of skyscrapers, and movie houses. I stay in no place for very long.
On the getaway day I try for amnesia. I do not want to know my name, where I live, or how many dire responsibilities rest on my shoulders. I detest encountering even the closest friend, for then I am reminded of who I am, and the circumstances of my life, which I want to forget for a while.
Every person needs to take one day away. A day in which one consciously separates the past from the future. Jobs, lovers, family, employers, and friends can exist one day without any one of us, and if our egos permit us to confess, they could exist eternally in our absence.
Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for. Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us. We need hours of aimless wandering or spates of time sitting on park benches, observing the mysterious world of ants and the canopy of treetops.
If we step away for a time, we are not, as many may think and some will accuse, being irresponsible, but rather we are preparing ourselves to more ably perform our duties and discharge our obligations.
When I return home, I am always surprised to find some questions I sought to evade have been answered and some entanglements I had hoped to flee have become unraveled in my absence.
A day away acts as a spring tonic. It can dispel rancor, transform indecision, and renew the spirit.
On Steph: Passionate about nourishment and self love, I am growing a body of work in self care. I love exploring tools, techniques, and practices for daily nourishment. Over the past ten years, I have been healing and finding joy through various modalities, including Brazilian dance, insight meditation, painting, SoulCollage®, Non-Violent Communication, morning pages, and spiritual study. I currently work as a non-profit program coordinator in Brooklyn, NY and live with my partner and fur-baby in Brooklyn. If you want to see more of my work, you can find more at: http://cosmiccowgirlsmagazine.com/author/stephcowling/