A book and a mug sitting on a table in front of a window overlooking a snowy day

This is going to be the perfect weekend.

Written by Brynn Elson

Friday, 1:51 p.m. I walk out of Lane and think, This is going to be the perfect weekend.

Week after week, I convince myself that the upcoming weekend will be the best one yet—it will be the “Platonic form” of a weekend, if you will. After starting multiple weekends with this intention and finishing them with a sense of disappointment, I decided to do some research. I went to two of my professors, Dr. Franklin and Dr. Cole, for advice on how to have the perfect weekend. Both interviews turned into conversations about the tenuous balance between work and rest.

“We’re human beings, not human machines,” Dr. Franklin reminded me. As such, we can’t expect ourselves to work indefinitely. Breaks are necessary, but the way we take a break is much more important than we think. Dr. Franklin suggested physical movement, artistic activity, and writing (either letter writing or journaling) as good ways to take a break. “Try to find the things that give you life,” he said.

Friday, 6:15 p.m. I take Dr. Franklin’s advice to heart.

I set aside my homework for a bit and meet a few friends in the dining hall for dinner. Most of them are chatty extroverts, and I enjoy sitting back and listening to them talk. They discuss their plans for the weekend, and I find myself thinking, Wow, that sounds exhausting. They seem genuinely excited about going to parties and hanging out with groups of people—two activities that seem more tiring than an organic chemistry lab to me.

To take breaks that will truly recharge you, it’s crucial to know yourself. An introvert might need to take a long walk by themselves, whereas an extrovert could benefit from a conversation with another person. The purpose of taking a break is to reflect and collect yourself so that you can return to work with renewed vigor and excitement. Take note of which activities help you reflect and collect yourself, and incorporate them into your regular routine.

How you work affects how you break. Dr. Cole, associate professor of philosophy, suggested taking deep “drinks” (long, uninterrupted periods of time) of study. He said that these moments of difficulty and strain produce high-quality work. Conversely, half-hearted focus will only produce half-hearted work. Both Dr. Franklin and Dr. Cole agreed on this point. When you’re working, work. When you’re resting, rest.

Saturday, 7:17 a.m. The sunrise is my cue to hop out of bed and go for a long run.

I’ve done weekly long runs (always on Saturdays) since my freshman year of high school, when I joined the cross-country team. My Saturday long run is a time for me to reflect on the past week and plan for the upcoming one. It’s also the best mechanism I’ve found for coping with stress; there’s no better way to unwind after a long week (for me, at least) than by exploring some of the back roads of Hillsdale County.

Saturday, 11:45 a.m. Fuel.

After a few hours of studying, I text a few of my friends to see if they want to go to brunch with me. They’re all still asleep. I decide to cook in my dorm instead, marveling at the fact that some people like to use the weekends to catch a few extra zzs. We must have very different ideas of the “Platonic ideal” of a weekend, I think.

Saturday, 10:25 p.m. I remember that I haven’t practiced clarinet or piano all day.

I run over to the music hall. Late-night practice sessions are my favorite, because MacNamara and Conrad are deserted. I have my pick of practice locations, and I spend a blissful hour and a half playing with the knowledge that no one can hear me.

Sunday, a.m. Most Hillsdale students take at least a twelve-hour Sabbath.

On Sunday mornings, most students go to church and brunch and put off any work until Sunday afternoon. It’s not always practical to take a day-long break, but it is possible to set aside a few hours to take care of your mental and spiritual health.

Dr. Franklin told me that his family’s weekend rituals include church, family meetings, and a visit to the farmer’s market. He and his family observe the Lord’s vision of Sunday to be “free from work” and also to be “free to worship and live.” To keep the Sabbath, try to make rest more than a vague idea: schedule it into your week, like Dr. Franklin does. Force yourself to close the textbooks, even for a few hours a week. You cannot expect yourself to do deep work if you don’t engage in deep rest.

Sunday, 2 p.m. Both my roommate and I have done most of our homework, so we go for a walk in the Arb.

We chat about our weekends, and I realize that both of us have completely different ideas of the “Platonic form” of a weekend. I love waking up early to get a head start on my work, but my roommate slept in and still enjoyed her weekend. One continuity between our weekends was our approach to work and rest: we both committed wholeheartedly to work when we studied, but we allowed ourselves to truly relax during our breaks.

Though my conversations with Dr. Cole and Dr. Franklin made me more aware of the work-rest balance, my attempt to live out that balance brought me to an even more profound realization: there is no such thing as a Platonic form of a weekend. Everyone needs different things when it comes to rest and work, and everyone finds balance in a different place.

For Further Reading:

Keeping the Sabbath

Brynn Elson, ’23, is a biochemistry major with a decent comprehension of the English language. She enjoys drinking coffee, playing the clarinet, and overcommitting to things. When she’s not studying (which is rare), you might be able to find her running (read: getting lost) on the back roads or complaining about Hillsdale’s lack of mountains.

Published in February 2021