Confessions of an SCA Student: I’m Lying! – By @sammcollinss

By Sam Collins


Confessions of an SCA Student: I’m Lying!


I spent the majority of my third day at the School of Communication Arts (SCA) lying on the floor at home.

“Why, Sam?!” I hear you cry in dismay from behind your screen, “I thought this course was intense, hands-on, full of contact time!?”

After a period of further deliberation, you might hazard a guess as to why this may have indeed been the case.

Perhaps for example my horizontal-ness was a consequence of advice offered up by an SCA mentor:

“Switch up your physical environment, or posture, as a way of overcoming creative blocks.” – It wouldn’t be the strangest thing I’ve heard at SCA thus far. Not by a long way.

Or, perhaps I was asked to lie there so as to increase the surface area of contact between my body and the floor, thus allowing for an increase in the flow of the Earth’s energy via some sort of voodoo-creative-osmosis? Well, I personally think that even in the eyes of one of our more philosophically eccentric mentors, ‘Ben the Buddhist,’ that’d still be considered pretty outlandish.

No, the truth behind my polar perpendicularity lies elsewhere.

For in reality, I lay there having folded at the feet of a dastardly nemesis. An enemy with whom I have now had several unpleasant run-ins. Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to reluctantly introduce you to, my ‘bulging disk.’

The Bulging Disk might have a beautifully poetic name, but what exactly is it? Is it a public order offence? Is it an astronomical phenomena observed by the Hubble telescope? Is it an earlier, bulkier iteration of the floppy disk?

You’ll be shocked to learn that the bulging disk is in fact none of those things. Jaw-dropping stuff, isn’t it?

In actual fact, cushioned between each vertebrae in the back, is a disc made from cartilage. These discs soften the effect of the impact that physical activity has on your spine.

Unfortunately, since I don’t stretch properly after I exercise, and because I tend to sit with the sort of posture that screams ‘we-get-it-you’re-a-contrarian-now-can-you-please-sit-up-straight,’ one of my discs has become inflamed. And thus, it bulges.

As the disc bulges and escapes its usual confines, it brushes against nerves on either side of the spine, which in turn sends pangs of electrifying pain down the legs. Practically, at its most severe, it prevents me from standing up or moving at all without pain.

This, a bit like Piers Brosnan, is mildly unpleasant, yet completely manageable.

But a funny thing happened during my most recent disc-bulge, on day 3 of SCA; I was forced to take a minute and reflect quietly on life.

Those people that know me well, know that there isn’t much I’ve done in my life that can accurately be characterised as either reflective or quiet. Strange times for me indeed.

Despite two years of relatively consistent meditation and more recently, ‘EFT tapping,’ I’ve always struggled to keep my brain quiet. Concentration and focus have always seemed to escape and frustrate me in equal measure as my mind is flooded with a sort of rushing, non-linear chatter. This persistent babble can be tiresome, but is something I have learnt to accept as a blessing rather than a curse.

At the SCA, my busy mind has been put to work in ways it has never been before; 1000 scamps in a day. Brain training an array of creative techniques. Introductory music to every lecture. Never have I been so engaged or present. But it hasn’t been easy at all.  The fluorescent lighting and general hubbub, combined with the eclectic array of characters with whom I’m delighted to be studying alongside, make for what can be a cauldron of overstimulation.

Striking a mindful balance in my mind at SCA has been a challenge, but a great one.

The practise of gratitude, creative techniques, memory training, ideation, teamwork and working on concurrent briefs have already sharpened my mind. I can slowly feel the tool between my ears being refined away from that of a screaming infant, and more towards a quiet, thoughtful but oh so humble wizard. Yes, a humble wizard.

At this stage, as I sit here, 700 words in to this reflection blog, rereading a sentence to myself that ends with the words ‘yes, a humble wizard,’ I feel compelled to stress how challenging I’m finding the art of communication. Although it may be an art that I currently have a slippery, cursory and illusive grip over, it’s one I desperately hope to hone with the help of the faculty, curriculum and my fellow classmates.

Although in the past I’ve been impatient when it’s come to learning, I’ve never felt more determined and compelled to pursue a discipline with such vigour.

In future, I hope to spend far more time in quiet reflection as a consequence of academic and emotional equilibrium, rather than have it forced upon me by the dreaded, the evil and the downright dastardly, bulging disc.

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