You go through your day with a to-do list etched in your mind. You have to go to class, and read that book before your history lecture tomorrow. Your phone buzzes with a text from your friend making plans for the weekend and dings with a reminder for that meeting later on. You walk through the GSU, headphones in, fingers scrolling, and pass up the empty seat across from a stranger in search of a familiar face or place of solitude. You sigh, you plan, you schedule and you carry on.
Stop. When was the last time you made friends with a complete stranger? Someone with whom you had nothing in common. The last time you used your biceps for something more real than lifting weights at the gym? The last time you fell into step with nature and harmonized with society surrounding you?
For me, it had been a while.
We were collapsed on a pile of mulch, warm with the rays of the sun and light with the breezes of the wind. Our muscles ached and our hearts pounded as we dozed to the whispers of the trees and the sighs of the earth. In that moment, I felt connected. Connected to my body, nature, society and my friends.
My Alternative Spring Break to Harper’s Ferry National Historic Park was just the mid-semester pick-me-up I needed. I was reminded of the simple beauties of life. I was sunburnt and exhausted, happy and humbled. I never would have met my fellow volunteers had we not been thrown together for a week. A week doesn’t seem like a long time, and it’s not when you’re in a city full of distractions. It might take you months to befriend someone you see everyday in class, but when you’re stuck with them in a van and bonding over manual labor, things are different. The bonds are strong, and they are incomparable.
My journey back to nature, a historical town, and volunteering reminded me of the simplistic beauty of life. Maybe we’re over-complicating things. Maybe, sometimes, we just need to take a moment to step out of our comfort zones; befriend a stranger; use our bodies for what they were built; and sleep soundly in our exhaustion without worrying about the toppling Jenga structure of self-created problems waiting for us in the morning.