In the flurry of assignments, deadlines, and unexpected responsibilities (yes, even in Week 2), it is easy to get lost in the rush and submit to stress. Faces break out, caffeinated bodies shake, and the occasional scream of pure, unfiltered frustration are all valid responses to the intensity this campus demands from its students in a condensed ten week term.
Not a stranger to stress-induced meltdowns and hectic schedules, I have found relief in taking (at least) 30 minutes of my day to reconnect with the environment around me. Cliche, I know, but if you’re a hopeless romantic of nature like I am, this campus offers a unique range of scenery that calms the mind and cultivates creativity. From the nostalgic ease of the Original Student Center’s hump, to the comforting touch of wind as one stares into the Earl Warren College canyon, there is limitless beauty found in the most mundane areas of campus.
It’s difficult to choose, but my top spots are located in John Muir College and Warren: the grassy patches in front of the Muir apartments, and the freedom found in the Warren canyon.
Sitting outside on the inviting patches of lush green can turn the area behind Pines into a hidden gem. On the right days, the leaves play songs of the season with the wind; the grass brushes against one’s legs, and some leaves may even descend softly into loose hair. While I realize this may be annoying, especially on windier days, there is a sense of belonging that comes in physically connecting with earthly elements. For me, connecting with the earth itself through the green in my fingertips and the delicate petals on my body provides a grounding sensation that clarifies ideas in my head and reconnects the body to the universe. It reminds me that we are interconnected as the leaves fall to blend in with the grass and the background chatter of student life becomes indistinguishable.
On the opposite end, Warren canyon serves as a place of unbound freedom. One look into its expanse provides a rush of liberation, the wind rushing against your cheeks and the soft beat of foliage brushing against one another on the hill’s descent. There is a sense of unknown, but it’s inviting; the massive area is representative of the ideas in my head and the answers I seek. Sitting and eating at the edge of Canyon Vista terrace gives an incredible view that spans most of the canyon, allowing yourself to think peacefully and explore the ideas that have been circulating in your head. I am free, engaging with the environment around me as we explore our connection together; it is relaxing, validating, and nothing short of remarkable.
My one last space is fleeting. From the view of The Village’s highest towers, the ocean’s horizon glows magically as the sun sets tentatively into its depths. The glow of the sunset blends intricately with the sea’s growing indigo, the two colors meshing intimately that draw the eye in. It’s here — especially with the people I cherish — that peace reaches the mind, and never do I feel more interlaced with nature, humanity, and my own existence than in this moment. The fading sunlight radiates on your skin and illuminates your eyes. It is reaffirming, and I hope to one day see the sunset from this point in the near future as my first year draws to close.
While this may not work for everyone, new experiences can offer insight on your own preferences to combat stress. It may seem far-fetched, but maybe one nap in the sun below that inviting tree in Muir will work wonders; I am sure Sun God would appreciate the company too.