I hate travel. I hate hiking. I hate being out of my carefully constructed and temperature controlled environment. I am, at times, the epitome of the “shut-in writer” archetype. That being said, even the shut-in writer and more broadly the “chained to their desk” student can not find what they need inside. My largely sedentary hobbies have caused me a number of health problems in my college years. My sophomore year I developed eye-strain from the hundred pages of reading I had to do daily for my homework and in my junior year I developed chronic pain in my hip, do in part to sitting for hours at my desk each day. I fear that I am forever going to feel the affects of my sedentary adaptations. And in the wake of these new health concerns, I have had to learn the art of taking a walk.
Relearn is probably more accurate. When I was really young my parents would walk my sister and I out of our little street, through the neighborhood, past the used car dealership, past the YMCA, onto the busy street, over the pedestrian bridge, to the ice cream shop. The whole trail took at least an hour to do, but we used to do it gladly. As a kid these walks felt more about the ice cream, but as I sit here writing, with my aching hip scrunched up into the most comfortable possible position, I know that I can find joy in walking without a destination in mind.
Dear Wooster resident, you may not, like me, need to step away from your desk to rest your eyes on something further from your face or to stretch a burning pain in your hip, but I think you could use a walk. The world of a liberal arts student is one of constant mental momentum, and there can be a fear that if you are not working you are doing something wrong, but I promise you that the metaphorical hamster wheel will keep spinning forward if you step off of it for just a minute. Step away from the business of work and study. Step out of your bedroom, out of your carrel (if you have one), away from your desk, and let’s talk about the environment. No, this isn’t about global warming (though that imminent threat should concern you). I want to talk about the campus environment, the physical place we live and how it works. How some of it was built and why.