Muddy Shoes

Lately, as my classes start to wrap, I’ve found myself working a lot. If I’m not working, I’m in class. If I’m not in class, I’m sleeping. I’ve been telling myself to “just get through this week” for ten weeks. It worked.

On a delightfully chilly Sunday afternoon, I decided it was time to take a walk to recenter myself.

Life is full of choices, some are more important than others and none of them weigh the same. When my path splits into two, I am faced with a choice. A trivial decision that has no real consequences, but is still important to me. The trailhead to my right is marked with a sycamore tree. The roots dig into the soil, deep and unwavering, like the invisible tether between nature and the human soul. The second trail is marked with a beech tree. English ivy vines slither from the wet dirt and up the tree’s trunk, in a mess of green leaves that can never be untangled. 

I realized, if I live my life without ever looking up, I would never be able to see how I got where I am currently. Acknowledging how life and its pacing is different now is an important step. Nature has always been an anchor in my life. It provides direction and peace. The whispers of the wind whipping my hair, the happy tweets of chickadees above me, and the thrumming of silence are sensations I never would have been able to hear in my four-walled dorm prison. I never would hear them if I didn’t stop to take in nature’s conversing around me.

Throughout my time in The Woods, I have also identified myself in nature. I see myself within these two trees. I am rooted in my experiences, ones I have brought with me, and memories I have made with my friends and myself during my adventures. These memories and experiences have contributed to a deeper understanding of my soul and identity. My soul lives within the trunk of my tree. With each new thought, I can create, I branch out to create my own experiences so I may grow intellectual curiosity and awareness of my connection to the land.

Nevertheless, I must choose a path. Each trail will lead me to another adventure toward self-discovery and an appreciation for the life that is sustained on this land.

On my way forward, I find a broken bridge. To either side are pilewort weeds. The glossy yellow petals reflect the springtime sun and provide a stark difference between the brown earth and the bright green and yellow from the lesser celandine. 

A patch of brown earth covered with yellow pilewort weeds.

I continue forward. As I take a step, my left foot sinks into the earth. I lose my balance and my right foot disappears beneath a layer of mocha mud. I’m stuck. Figuratively stuck in my constant indecision and literally stuck in the ground like the weeds I was just admiring.  

My black and white sneakers caked with a layer of wet mud.

I fall forward and pull myself from the mud on a fallen tree trunk. I straddle the tree to reflect on my harrowing experience.

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