Paul Stokstad- WebDesigner Genius, Poet, Actor, and Wroter- always has the best shirt/tie combinations. (He’s also the best boss EVER.) #bestdressed #poet #writer #boss #fashion #tie #actor #webdesigner (at Argiro Student Center)
Laura Noel, Vistor’s Weekend Coordinator, wears the cutest clothes! #fashion #clothes #cute #clogs #plaid #woman #artist #fashionista #vintage (at South 7th Sweetness)
This is a good time of year for reflection. Alone in the bustle of a busy airport, I find myself contemplating the past two and a half years since I first arrived in Fairfield. I find a lot to reflect on, and a lot be grateful for. In a short time, I’ve blossomed into a state of clear understanding and deep contentment. What is even more precious, I have recently been granted the privilege to pass on some of what I have learned as a teaching assistant.
This community and this university are my home, and I can’t even wrap my head around how fortunate I am to have found them. However, in my time here I have both witnessed and experienced how easy it can be to fall into a feeling of mundanity. The magic of this place can seem to evaporate when we lose touch with how the rest of the world functions.
Traveling always brings back my appreciation for our community. Seated here in the noisy food court, saturated with fast food, fast media, and the buzzing stress of my fellow travelers, the beauty of my home is crystal clear. In the spirit of the season, I’d like to share a slightly romantizised version of the story of my path to Fairfield. It always brings me context, and a renewed appreciation for this extraordinary community that we share. I hope that you enjoy this little vignette, and that it may bring to your heart some remembrance of your own Fairfield story. Each one is truly a gem…
In that time and place, I took the form of a grungy punk-rocker: a half-spoiled collegiate porch urchin occupying the gentrified rind of West Philadelphia. I was sick of myself, and of the toxic culture I wrapped myself in. I loved the people around me, but we were all lost. At our best, we surged in confused, distorted, ecstatic sonic waves, bouncing off dirty basement walls and ceilings, crashing into ruin over and over again. At our worst, we were completely hollow: sick, drawn, and addicted. Most were angry, and almost everyone was sad. I was sad, though I didn’t really know why; that’s what drove me nearly mad.
Graduation came and passed. It seemed an empty accomplishment, and the celebrations a vain bright spot on the dark horizon of my uncertain future. All summer, four floors up, I sat shrouded in the leaves of the boulevard trees of Walnut Street behind rusted, busted iron bars, bent over the Tau, begrudgingly chained to an ashtray, searching for a way out. I was alone on the balcony all summer, though the street below buzzed and whooshed and wailed the stories of thousands of anonymous souls, and though my housemates smiled and laughed with me on occasion in the evenings, I was alone. No one asked the questions I asked. No one shared my search for that ‘big thing’. I fancied myself a little Sidhartha as I sat there pondering my infinity, and the seeming smallness of modern daily monotony.
Truly blessed, I learned to transcend when I was very young. My mother brought me to our family physician’s office on a blue-gray Sunday morning in November. All the lights were off, and the normal nervous tingling electricity of the waiting room was replaced by a cool, soft glow of sunlight filtered through drawn blinds. I remember holding the fruit on the pure white handkerchief. I kept that piece of linen with me for many years, and it still sits on my altar in my childhood home. I remember little of the initiation, other than a feeling of rarefied ceremony; the feeling one gets holding something very delicate. I left the office that day with a handkerchief, a piece of fruit, and a precious gem in my heart. I had no idea of its worth, and did not come to truly appreciate its beauty for a long time.
I recalled that soft Sunday morning as I sat baking in the windless heat of urban summer. The memory of the remembering is vivid now. On the barren, dirty balcony I felt utterly disconnected from that little boy. I felt wasted and ashamed. I had squandered a great inheritance through years of sparse, casual practice — rejected something truly great for the sake of what? More television, more video games, more empty moments unremembered and unhelpful to me in that time of desperation. I nearly gave in to despair, to a belief that it was too late for me to ever achieve enlightenment, if such a thing even could exist.
It was then by some sweet grace that the darkness of my adolescent ruin was pierced by a faint glimmer of light stirring inside me — the great inner light flashing on a facet of that gem of transcendence, which I had carried with me all the while, though it was forgotten below layers and layers of confusion, disinterest, and brash youthful rebellion. Something inside spoke: ‘it is never too late for now’.
And so it was that I returned to Maharishi. I read his books. I began to practice regularly, and with reverence. I went to a residence course and had my meditation checked. This proved pivotal, for I had somehow missed the crucial instruction of effortlessness the first time around. It was no wonder to me then why I had lost interest in meditation during my adolescence. I had fallen into the straining practice that shrouded transcendence from the world for centuries. Effortlessly, I began to experience that ‘big thing’. I began to love my meditations, and I began to discern a clear desire blooming in my heart to teach others how to transcend.
In a few months time, I was on a greyhound bound for the Midwest. I was following that little thing in my heart. That subtle little thread lead me through great awakenings, and the dark struggles of stress release, all the way to this moment here and now in which I am living the fulfillment of dreams I never knew I could have back in the shadow of the Philadelphia balcony. In this season, I invite you to reflect a while and maybe rediscover that forgotten magic that has been with you all along.
By Brian ‘Starling’ Glassett
Bluelight Press and 1st World Publishing are proud to announce the release of a book of poems by MUM Marketing Director Paul Stokstad entitled Butterfly Tattoo.
Butterfly Tattoo is Paul’s first publisher-produced book. He previously self-published books about tennis and improv theatre. Paul also served as a ghostwriter for a book about Maharishi Ayurveda.
The Butterfly Tattoo book release party and poetry reading will be held at the Orpheum Ballroom, located above the old Coed Theatre, at 8 pm on December 20. We will also be celebrating Paul’s birthday! The evening will conclude with cake and dance music.
Profits from book sales at the event will be donated to Noah’s Ark Animal Shelter. There will be a $2 entry fee to defray room expenses. All faculty, staff and students are invited!!!