Self-Reliance, Reflection, and Self-Improvement

Yesterday, I took my first walk in the woods near my dorm since probably November 2015. The weather has been atrocious up until about last week, or when it was nice, I wasn’t on campus, so I have a reason to have not been out, but I still feel remiss about it.

Again, I might blame my current affectation towards nature as a result of spending time with the Transcendentalists, and honestly, given that I’m going into Whitman next, things probably aren’t going to get much better. Another huge part of it is that I’m graduating and I do have an approximate value in my head of how many more times I’ll get to walk in the woods and enjoy a Sunday like that. The time I have left at my university is dwindling, and it fills me with overwhelming sensations of anxiety and nostalgia. I keep thinking of the song by Kyle Hall titled “Off Course,” where he begs for “one more summer.” It (obviously) isn’t summer now, but I’ve got that kind of feeling in my veins lately, so I’m trying to make the most of the time I have.

You’d think I’m dying by the way I talk about it, but remember that in tarot, the “Death” card represents the end of a cycle: So, in those terms, yeah, it does feel like I’m dying. That’s also the panic disorder, though.

In all, I hit 10000 steps, which is about 5 miles, give or take. It’s my daily steps goal, which I’ve readopted in noticing that I haven’t been as careful with my body as I should be. This is about my experience with nature (or at least, as close to “nature” as I can get without leaving campus—Carver Pond would probably be a better example) as much as it is about my experience trying to treat my body better. Over the past few weeks, I’ve adopted (and modified) Thoreau’s habit of only drinking water: While I still drink tea in the morning and early afternoon, I have (for the time being, at least) given up alcohol. Luckily I had stopped drinking significant amounts of soda a while ago, so that hasn’t been a hard habit to break, and I didn’t drink a lot of juice or anything else in the first place (unless I was getting sick, in which case I’d hit the orange juice or cranberry juice hard).

On my walk, I let myself space out. There were mushrooms growing on a fallen tree branch, and they were both interesting to look at and a nice distraction from any worries that I’ve been facing. Nature works in patterns, not unlike fractals, and sometimes it makes more sense to look at the way tree branches have grown in spirals to curl into the other trees around them than to think about responsibilities or personal relationships. A couple was walking their dog, a German Shepard with a thick, soft coat (and I’m always surprised when dogs have soft fur!), so even if everything else had gone wrong yesterday (it didn’t), at least I would have been able to say that I pet a dog.

The only real bummer I ran into on my walk was when I was coming back and an officer in a police golf cart zoomed by me. I had to stand in brush, which I’m not overly fond of, and he was going extremely fast for a place with minimum leg room. I hope he didn’t scare the dog.

Taking more walks (and meeting that steps goal) is part of my overall plan to be a healthier and better me. I can’t stand the thought that I haven’t been the best me that I can be, but even if that’s the case, I’m working on it. Hopefully improving my overall health will keep the depression gnawing that the back of my brain at bay. The whole thing that kicked this off was being told that my iron count was too low to donate blood, to be honest, but reading about Emerson encouraging people to be “Self-Reliant” resonated with me. Spending time in the woods resonates with me more; I think Thoreau and I are of the same ilk. Besides, I remember when I started to make the effort to walk in the woods more back in 2014 after reading about Wordsworth’s frequent walks, so this is something that matters. When it’s summer, I’ll probably get back into running through the graveyard down my street.

Revisiting these American Romanticists though has made me want to be more aware of myself and my surroundings. Last night I caught the sunset, and honestly? There’s nothing I love more about Bridgewater than the way it looks at sunset on a Sunday evening. I mentioned it on Instagram, but I’ll say it again: I’m sure that alpenglow is meant to be reserved for the way the sun strikes against mountain faces while setting, but I’m also positive that the same thing happens to the buildings on campus. I love it, and I already miss it knowing there’s going to be a point where I can’t look out of the window and see Shea Durgin, my first home on campus, lit up gold by the sun. It’s gorgeous. I’m eating healthier now (I lost five pounds in a week not eating the pan desserts…yikes), but I don’t think I need cheat days when the most satisfying thing to be isn’t food but rather this: Getting to experience the sky.

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Author: jillboger

Part time writer. Editor-in-Chief for the Bridge volume 13, former EIC for The Odyssey at BSU. My glasses protect my secret identity.

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