For as long as I can remember, I have always appreciated taking walks. Long walks, short walks, walks with others, walks by myself, it doesn’t matter. Perhaps it’s because, when I was really young, probably around 4 or 5, I began going on walks with my grandmother and my great-grandmother, and they taught me how to develop and appreciate the seemingly simple skill of observation.
My grandmother would make up songs for us to sing as we walked from my house to the school and back again. They were all about the things we saw in the neighborhood or what the weather was like that day. One Christmas Eve morning, we went for a walk in the mild, but windy weather, and came back to the house with our own rendition of “O Holy Night” titled “O Windy Morn” to sing to the rest of our family over mugs of hot cocoa. We still sing it every Christmas Eve.
When I went on walks with my great-grandmother, she had me point out all of the flags, flowers and birds that we saw along the way. I was little at the time, probably only 4 or 5, but I looked forward to seeing the different flowers and birds in the neighborhood and seeing what decorative flags people put in their yards to celebrate each season. There was even a time I used these as landmarks to get us back home after she pretended to forget the way back. It’s a memory that she cherishes even to this day, one that’s retold every time I see her.
While taking walks has sentimental and emotional significance to me, it’s also something that I find to be calming in general. If I’m ever feeling stressed, worried, or anxious, and I don’t know what to do with that energy, more often than not, going on even a short walk around campus can help me clear my head and calm me down.
I enjoy listening to music or audiobooks on walks, however there is also something magical about taking time to be outdoors and listening to the sounds around me. I find that I feel more inspired after walks with just my thoughts and the sounds of the fountains in the ponds, leaves rustling and birds chirping.
Now that students are permitted to go off-campus in order to take hikes for their mental health, I highly encourage people to go out and do so as the weather gets warmer and the schoolwork continues to pile up. While campus and the surrounding area are full of beautiful spaces to walk through and admire, sometimes a change of scenery is beneficial.
So while taking walks may not sound like an art form to many, to me, there is not much that is more artistic, or at the very least inspiring, than dedicating time to focus on the beauty that’s around you, to get some fresh air, and to spend more time outside of the dorms doing something mentally, emotionally and physically stimulating.