I wouldn’t consider myself an outdoorsy person.
I enjoy fall foliage and stunning sunsets as much as the next guy, but you’ll never catch me jogging around campus at 7 a.m. or biking twenty miles in the Oxford wilderness.
Aside from when I play guitar at the Freedom Summer Memorial or study at the tables outside Armstrong, the only time I go outdoors is when I commute to class. Thus, when I heard that my ENG 225 class was going to meet outside last week for a lesson on nature writing, I was intrigued. Although I have been a student here for a few months, it had never occurred to me to visit one of Miami’s 17 nature trails.
Last Wednesday, rather than climbing three tedious flights of stairs and sitting at a desk in Upham Hall, I met my ENG 225 class in a greenhouse full of flowers. The assignment was simple: spend thirty minutes outside with your notebook and write whatever comes to mind.
I had a lot on my mind that afternoon: my upcoming midterms, the fact it was going to be 3:00 before I would have time to eat lunch, the drive home I was making that evening.
My brain was fried from the three back-to-back classes I had already attended that day. I wasn’t feeling inspired to write. More than anything, I just wanted to take a nap in my dorm.
My mood completely changed the second I stepped into Western Woods.
Something about having the leaves crunch beneath my feet and the cool forest air blow through the curls of my hair made me feel instantly at ease. Instead of hearing passing cars and the chatter of students, I heard birds chirping and bugs buzzing. I looked above me and saw autumn leaves swirling through the sky; I looked below me and saw wildflowers and squirrels.
In “Walden,” Henry David Thoreau wrote, “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”
Although I find Thoreau’s writing unbearably wordy, and I never made it past the first thirty pages of Walden (sorry, Thoreau), he makes a good point: going into the woods makes you feel alive.
Now that we are halfway through the fall semester, most of us are pretty cemented in our routines. We eat the same four to five things at the same one or two dining halls, walk the same routes to the same academic buildings, sit in the same study spots and go out to the same places Uptown.
With the added stress of midterm exams, it’s easy to feel burnt out. Taking time to explore the outdoors might help you feel less lethargic.
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I’m not saying that you should drop out and backpack for three months on the Appalachian Trail or drive up to Hueston Woods every afternoon. It’s just worth a shot to check out Miami University’s 1000 acres of natural areas.
From the Conrad Formal Gardens to the Western Woods Trails, there’s a variety of places on campus where you can relax and reconnect with nature.
If you aren’t particularly into hiking, you can play instruments, read, write, have a photoshoot, hang out with friends – whatever helps you feel inspired.
For me, spending just thirty minutes outside for my English class was enough to make me feel energetic and inspired again. At the very least, it made me feel inspired enough to write an entire article about it.
So instead of watching “New Girl'' for the fifth time while procrastinating your chemistry homework, take a hike to see the wildflowers at Silvoor Biological Sanctuary. See the view from the top of Kramer Loop. It might just give you the inspiration you were looking for.