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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Between the Lines

When I think about some of my favorite moments at Prescott College so far, it’s easy to think of the loud ones: a particularly awesome party, that time Morgoth tried to get all of the incoming students to sing the “baby shark song,” the games I’ve played in classes, the things I’ve heard from other PC students about the cool things they’ve done in class, all of these things are quick to bubble to the surface of my mind.  After those bubbles have popped, though, I’m left with the quiet—though by no means less powerful—moments I’ve had here.

On a climb at Thumb Butte with some friends last fall, after we’d all gotten to the top we sat up there for a little while.  Looking north toward Granite Mountain, I could see the dry hills around Prescott stippled with cacti, the rolling valley in which the town sits, and the huge basin beyond, with its far off canyon walls.  You can only say “oh my god, this is beautiful” so many times before you realize that it will never be enough, eventually giving up and letting the breeze do the talking.

My winter block class was a sense of place reading and writing workshop, so the poems and fiction/nonfiction works we created were influenced heavily by the settings in which they took place.  We drove out to Groom Creek one day to spend some time writing in the field, drawing straight from our surroundings.  We scrambled over boulders, splashing along the edge of the stream still covered with ice in some places, and eventually settled into our own little spaces to write.  I found myself leaning against a huge rock, leaning my head back, listening to the stream and the wind in the leaves overhead.  I thought about my childhood in the woods of Minnesota, playing in streams and pine forests very similar to this one.  The poem I wrote was good enough, but my biggest benefit from that place was the silence I was able to experience.

Yesterday, I decided I would do some homework out in my backyard.  I unrolled my yoga mat over the sandy dirt and took a minute to sit in silence before starting my assigned reading.  I listened to the mourning dove who always sings outside my kitchen window, to the lizards scrambling through the dry grass (like me, they wanted to stretch out in the sun), to the cars driving up and down the busy street two blocks over. 

It’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of college, where semesters are packed with that dance, that show, that movie, that speaker, that class, that project, that paper, and that job.  And don’t get me wrong, I’ve had some wonderful, noisy, joyful, busy times, and I wouldn’t trade them for anything.  But because I’ve had those quiet moments to reflect, to think about how lucky I am to have those moments bursting with energy, I’m able to truly appreciate it all—quiet and loud, hectic and calm, with friends and with myself.

View from the top of Thumb Butte, looking toward Granite Mountain in the distance

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