By Gabriel Kolanen, Studying English with History
Wander to Wonder
We think we have the knack of it–one leg in front of the other until one is three feet under. Biped locomotion, or to put it simply: walking, is a daily chore as we trudge, shuffle, strut, shimmy, drag or trot our way across campus. Yet, it is style without substance. What I would like to suggest to you, dear reader, is to wander to wonder. To set of aimlessly, in solitude, without objective, and follow the rhythm of your feet as they trace the contour of the street.
There is one certain ailment that us students are very prone to develop. Symptoms include: extended durations of sitting, loss of focus and attention, and staring into the mid-distance with a blank, vacant look. The reaction is to stabilize the attention with a dose of social media. Facebook, then the ‘gram, send some snaps, and peruse the new releases on Netflix (some that you might watch later).
After nearly four years of self-study I have come to describe the phenomena as ‘Cabin Fever’: the mental wall we hit after sitting on our buttocks for a bit too long. Very common and prevalent during the deadline and exam season.
Now I know the last thing you want to do is carve up time from an already busy timetable, but hear me out. Don’t walk good, walk well.
Walk outside the box
They say, ‘think outside of the box’, but that predicates more sitting. In this case, I would suggest an alternative: walk outside the box. Literally and figuratively, the four walls here reflect our current physical space and our mental one, too. There’s a pretty big box on campus if you might have noticed. This box is full to the brim with the clickety-click of fingers on keyboards, the incessant drone of background voices, all deciding upon when to have the next coffee break at Hardback. Others rest their head in the palm of their hand while attempting to decipher the scribble of writing titled as ‘Notes’, face contorted as the mind tries to process the symbols and their significance–and some of you are reading this. Walk it off.
Instead of exercising just that single appendage, your thumb, to scroll through the infinite content online, take that time to exercise the whole body. Release that excess stress instead of channelling it into a never-ending thumb war with a plastic screen–you are bound to lose each time. Give yourself a proper break.
Three tips on how to walk well:
1. Set off without a fixed course in mind. Spontaneity is key. At each crossroad let your feet make the decision: left, right, or forward.
2. Don’t just look, but L👀K. Pace is not important here. Let your eyes glide across the surface of sensory attention: the cracked slabs on the footpath, the push and pull of surfaces, the texture of brick, stone, granite under your fingertips; the little plants that jut from in-between solid rock; your reflection in the window of a car; the swoop of a bird, the sound of leaves as they clap against each other in the breeze–the lingering, shifting clouds stark against the sky. Don’t be afraid to really get a good look, and don’t keep your chin glued to your chest.
3. This is a solitary activity, best done by yourself. It is awkward, I know, at first–but to enjoy your own company, to be comfortable in our own skin, is an amazing skill to possess.
As we wander to wonder, the usual background we inhabit starts to turn into a colourful canvas full of curious detail. There’s something out there for everyone. So don’t walk good, walk well. Get lost, and in the process, find yourself in a new, vivid environment. Although, perhaps bring a snack along as well. And take some pics of of any fun things you come by!